Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
You could see them coming and going, on the runway and off. Quilted jackets and hand-painted silk tunics, pleated blouses, pleated skirts and goldleaf body belts worn bandoleer-style. The clothes of Mary McFadden, worn by the women who can afford them.
"Even junky clothing is expensive today," said Barbara Dennis. She was not wearing McFadden because she said, "It's hot, and besides, I'm secure enough not to have to wear one tonight. But it pays to buy investment clothes, enjoy them and set your own standard."
"Besides," she added with a smile, "I have a very understanding husband."
A few of those husbands, who understand $800 jackets, $2,200 suits and $800 sweaters, showed up Monday at the Textile Museum benefit showing of the fall and winter McFadden collection, presented by Saks-Jandel.
But mostly it was a night for women who appreciate a good thing even if they can't afford it. However, one husband put his foot down about his wife's appearance. At the last minute, Vice President Walter Mondale insisted his wife, Joan. who was Monday's honorary chairman, be present at the joint session of Congress and on hand afterwards for the guests he had invited to the vice president's house after the speech.
"We started this business as a lark, and it grew like a monster," said Patrick Lannan, art collector, business partner and special friend of McFadden, a bit wistfully. "It was going to be a beautiful, quiet, wonderful thing with Mary creating dresses like paintings. Am I sorry if's gotten so big? Yes, I am and I think Mary is, too. It imposes so much on your life."
But for the 15 or so women who made a point of wearing their McFaddens Monday the only imposition was the weather. It was a hot, sticky night. Hardly a breeze stirred the towering floral arrangements as guests picked from an elegant candlelit buffet in the museum's garden before moving under a tent for the fashion show.