Rosalynn Carter, who made it clear that clothes are not a primary concern, has tapped a veteran of Washington's apparel business as her personal Seventh Avenue scout.
She is Georgia Young, buyer for Lewis & Thomas Saltz' women's division since the Washington specialty store for which she worked 20 years, Erlebacher's folded three years ago. And she's already made some selections that are now in Carter's closet, though she said yesterday that she hasn't seen the First Lady wearing them yet.
Young describes her role as "being of service to a very busy lady who likes clothes but doesn't have much time to devote to them." She says Carter has expressed a concern about being "appropriately dressed with more care than she could while she was campaigning for her husband."
Before moving to Washington, Rosalynn Carter shopped at Jason's and A. Cohen & Sons, specialty stores in Americus, Ga. According to Jack Moses of Jason's, he would spot things for Carter in New York and preselect certain items when she would advise him of a particular need. It was Moses who linked Carter with Dominic Rompollo, the Seventh Avenue designer who created several inaugural and other outfits expressly for the First Lady.
Since coming to Washington, Carter made one foray to New York's Seventh Avenue but has relied largely on her friend and personal assistant, Madeleine MacBean to make clothing selections for her.
Georgia Young met Rosalynn Carter through friends in the same apartment building, the Colonnades in Northwest Washington, where Young lives with her husband, David Young, co-owner with his brother of the restaurant Paul Young's. (Billy Carter has been to the restaurant, but not the President and his wife.)
Carter has very strong opinions about clothes, says Young. "She really likes dresses, likes clothes that are covered up and yet define the figure without being too tight and restricting." Selections made with the help of Young will be billed at their retail cost through Saltz.
Young did personal shopping for her Erlebacher clients, including Mrs. Robert McMamara and former TV news commentator Nancy Dickerson. She selected Sharon Percy Rockefeller's trousseau and Jacqueline Onassis and Ethel and Joan Kennedy were her customers at Erlebacher's as well.
Her customers today at Lewis & Thomas Saltz are far more conservative.
"Women have turned conservative because there is little direction in clothing," says Young. "Lots of women with money and taste remember the quality they used to find in clothing. It's conservative clothing that offers that quality today."
There's no salary for being fashion adviser to the First Lady, beyond what she normally gets from the store.
"It's kind of like having another child," said Young who is delighted with the assignment.