One of the first models to appear from the cabines at the Givenchy couture showings this week will be Beverly Lee, not long ago a makeup demonstrator at Woodward & Lothrop (Landover), but since then a successful New York model with a Gentlemen's Quarterly cover, national ads for Danskin and an Avon commercial to her credit.
Lee is one of Hubert de Givenchy's six fitting models, hired for two months through her New York agent, Eileen Ford. Her days are spent mostly sitting in the cabines (dressing rooms) waiting for Givenchy's summons, then standing for an hour or so while he creates the designs on her. "He pins the fabric, changes it, asks me to walk and move, and when he is satisfied, quickly sketches the design he has just created," explains Lee.
Lee, 25, whose father is a partner at the Golden Palace restaurant, attended Montgomery Blair High School and Montgomery College. She won't be shopping much at Givenchy or elsewhere in Paris this summer. Her $245 weekly hotel bill and 10 per cent commission to her agent take a large chunk of her pay. Even by moving into an apartment this week, she figures she ends up with $300 at best after the summer. But she doesn't care even if she has to dip into her savings. "It's been a marvelous learning experience," she says, adding that she expects to return to Paris for the ready-to-wear shows in October.
A major theme at the Givenchy collection will be looseness and fullness, often accomplished by pleats that fall from the shoulders. Givenchy plans to revive the culotte dress in challis and flannel, use ponchos or narrow top coats with soft, full skirts. Fur-trimmed tunics over pleated skirts will be shown, too. Evening clothes will incorporate those same silhouettes in filmy fabrics, often touched with gold. Lace and crushed velvet show up frequently for evening.
A far cry form the days when textile companies in France and Italy were traditionally expected to give fabric (for free) to designers for their couture showings, a practice that was stopped several years back. Pierre Cardin has moved his couture showing scheduled for today to the airport at Lyon in order to give a boost, he says, to the troubled silk industry. Lyon, the heart of the French silk business, is undoubtedly suffering the ills that caused the American silk business to decline to the point where now there is virtually only one major silk manufacturer, American Silk Mills, in the U.S. Astronomical production costs, the dying off of craftsmen and the challenge from cheaper labor markets are among the problems makers are experiencing in spite of the growing interest in natural fibers and the increased price of petroleum man-made fibers, according to Julian Tomchin, textile designer and creative director of Wamsutta.
Zack Brown, creator of costumes and sets for Busoni's opera "Doktor Faust," which will be presented Aug. 5 and 7 at Wolf Trap Farm Park, had the problem of linking the costumes of five disparate periods in the new production, which tells the Faust legend through Busoni's life. Since the periods are as different as 1924, the year Busoni died, and the Renaissance court at Parma in the late 15th century, Brown gave a modern interpretation to the costumes throught and eliminated many details. The result is a related line throughout the entire production that still allows for enough costume variety to underscore the different periods. The Parma scenes were the most difficult, says Brown, whose credits include sets for "The Importance of Being Earnest" at New York's Circle in the Square Theater, sets and costumes for "A Midsummer Night's Dream" at the Yale Repertory Theater and "Play, Footballs That Time" at Arena Stage, among many others. For those scenes the director wanted to look like perfect paintings, Brown used appliques and embroideries. The Dutchess of Parma's costume, for example, is endowed with five layers of fabric, each layer appliqued and embroidered.
Theatrics have become an integral part of the fashion business, with Broadway spectacles and disco settings not unusual at the start of the season. But the French may be going Seventh Avenue one better. Models for Serge Lepage will step from the upstairs windows of the Schiaparelli house and move down staircases into the Place Vendome. What do you do for a grand finale for a spectacle like this?Lepage has created an evening cape of golden cock feathers with a multicolor feather rendering of one of the mosaics of Ravenna, Italy, at the center of the back. No word on the cost, but more than 300 hours of work were required to complete the cape.