PARIS -- Jacques de Bascher, designer Karl Lagerfeld's pal and a fashion personality in his own right, was wearing a white duster coat, a chauffeur's cap and in his lapel a Saran Wrap carnation and soap bubble jewelry from the Lagerfeld collection. Didier Grumbach, who works with Thierry Mugler and others, was in Mugler's Dracula-collared tuxedo. And a number of models were showing off their legs in the short dance sirts from the collections just shown.
This was fun and games night at the Paris ready-to-wear showings, a party at the Palace (for the past year, one of Paris' favorite discos) when most of the shows were over. But the designers themselves chose mostly conservative tuxedos (of their own label, of course) in which to take the compliments of friends and colleagues for their spring collections.
Even for the formal sit-down affair, Clauda Montana was true to his leather jacket and jeans, Kenzo his tan shirt jacket and Lagerfeld himself echoed his new conservative image of Oxford preppie by day with a Fleet Street banker's suit and white shirt for evening.
Yves Saint Laurent is likely to be in Washington this December. He won't say so for sure, but Marina Schiano, who heads up his American operation, has bought a box for the Kennedy Center's Honors evening on Dec. 2.
Washington-born model Angela Robinson, almost missed the Paris shows. Her agent told her not to bother to go to London, that it was too tough a place for black models. But she went to London and scored with six pages in Company, the sister publication to Cosmopolitan. "It worked so well they put me on the cover,", said Robinson proudly. She's also got eight pages coming up in French Playboy wearing a pink bodysuit and rollerskates.
In spite of her last minute arrival in Paris, Givenchy booked her to do all his publicity pictures, but passed her up for his fashion show. "My problem is I've got a lingerie body." she explained. Nevertheless, it didn't bother Dior, Courreges, Daniel Hechter or Georges Rech.
Rech is her favorite, and she takes her salary in clothes by Danielle Gaggeau, the designer for that collection.
When she wasn't modelling, she slipped in to see the shows. "I just carry my big makeup bag, shout 'Mannequin, mannequin', and slip by the guards as though I'm modelling in the show," said Robinson, who is the daughter of Washington attorney Albert C. Robinson and Vera Robinson, librarian at Roosevelt High School.
Danielle Gaggeau, thinks the flip back to the 1960s comes from a need to find sleek, modern clothes for the upcoming decade. The designer, who looks a bit '60s herself these days with braids and geometric jewelry, says she thinks modern with stretch jumpsuits from day to evening. And everything else done with clean, untricky shapes. Gauggeau says this is a big season for accessories, "Why not, you can have a beige suit an wear it with beige shoes for something quite proper, and you can change to bright turquoise and the look is totally different," she says.
Karl Lagerfeld is ready to present a new fragrance. He's got the scent, the bottle and what he calls the "atmosphere" -- the theme of the presentation. Only missing in the name. "I have a thousand ideas, but I need 'the' idea, and that is far more difficult," he says.
Kenzo had no trouble choosing his fragrance name. Shortly, he will introduce "King Kong." No need to check the lawyers. He was sure no one else wanted the name.
Designers here are on the scent of the sweet smell of success of Opium, Yves Saint Alurent's hot selling perfume.Coming up, Septieme Sens, the musk and jasmine scent Sonia Rykiel introduced from the runway with her collection, Balmain's Ivoire, Jean Louis Scherrer's Scherrer and Nahema by Guerlain. With these, the French hope to win back some of the big perfume business lost to such successful American fragrances like Norman Norell (Revlon), Cinnabar (Estee Lauder) Charlie and others. So much for the old French expression that a woman should never reveal the name of her cook, her lover, her dressmaker or her perfume. The fragrance folk want her to switch to one of the more than a dozen new fragrances coming up and tell all her friends about it.
One of the things that Karl Lagerfeld noticed on his recent trip to the U.S. was all the young kinds walking around with tape recorders blasting disco music. So in his show one model was carrying a black patent shoulder bag marked like a tape recorder, and of course, as she went along, she held it to her ear.
Several designers used dogs and dance acts to brighten their lengthy fashion presentations. Sterling St. Jacques, favorite dance partner of Margaret Trudeau, Liza Minelli and Chita Rivera . . . he dances with all three at once at Studio 54 . . . was on the runway with his pet weimaraner at the Givenchy show. At one point, he picked up model Charissa Craig (also from Washington) and Pat Cleveland, and spun them off the floor at the end of the runway. At the Dior show, St. Jacques picked up designer Marc Bohan after he took his bows and carried him off the runway on his shoulders.
The lines are long for the film "Alien," which has been playing just one month in Paris, but that hasn't stopped many of the designers. They are clearly impressed by the jumpsuits as well as the music, which is used for background at many of the terrestrial shows.
For music for her showing, Emannuelle Khanh has planned to hire the American group with Corky Hale, but when it fell through at the last minute, the designer tapped the street band appearing at the nearest Metro stop. Andre Courreges pulled in some mimes from the courtyard of the Beaubourg Museum to lighten his spring collection.
Norman Kamali is alive and well in Paris. Her bathing suits are the inspiration for lots of the bathing suits down runway in various designer shows, never with any credit to Kamali. However, hardly a showing this season had no bathing suits. But the best of all, and strictly spun off from his own suits, were the swimwear designs at Giorgio Armani in Milan.
Pierre Cardin may have passed up this round of collections, but he didn't miss being in Peking for one day last week to do a TV show. He's now abandoned the big pagoda shoulders that were his favorite silhouette -- for himself and his models -- when he was in China last March. He was on the guest list at the Elysee Palace for dinner with Chinese leader Hua Monday night.
Gilles Raysse, a partner of Kenzo, the designer for Jungle Jap, doesn't believe in designer jeans. Levi Strauss makes them just great," he says. Just the same, those are his children who are the models in the current national color ads for Calvin Klein jeans.
Lauren Bacall look-alike Nancy Grigor, tried out for the Karl Lagerfeld show wearing one of his way above the knee white ottomon dresses. "I love these short things, she confessed to Lagerfeld, "My legs are the only sexy part of me. Everything else is much too skinny.
Grigor says she's never met Bacall. The resemblance is so strong, however, that people stop her on the street to see if she is Bacall's daughter.
One sign of the 60s is what designers are calling the "emanchure Americaine," the American armhole. France Andrevie and Thierry Mugler had them, so did Gauggeau and more. Turns out they are crediting the Americans for starting the halter top.
The walkie-talkie has taken the Paris shows into the modern age. Jacques de Bascher was cueing models and music for Chloe sitting out front with headset and microphone. WWD chief Michael Cody was signalling his photographer at the far end of the runway about what pictures he should take and which accessories to snap with a walkie-talkie. The Sakowitz (Houston-based specialty stores) contingent was again keeping a running commentary on the show, talking into tape recorders.