It was scheduled to avoid coinciding with the Redskin kickoff. But the Perry Ellis fashions show held for the benefit of the Capital Children's Museum yesterday was well worth missing the game.

There were two top models from New York, all the usual behind-the-scene activities of a fashion show taking place right out front, and some of the most fun, young independent clothes that have moved down a Washington runway in a long time.

New York models Lisa Ryall and Esme scaled down their usual $3,000-a-day fee to $2,000 for yesterday's benefit. ("They are worth that and much more," insisted Ellis before the show.) Along with three Washington models, they did their hair, applied makeup and stripped to their T-shirts and tights for clothing changes -- all between the racks placed on stage. The audience, which included lots of the children of the usual fashion show crowd, was glued to the bleachers watching the changes.

Ellis' specialty is handknit sweaters, often with capelet collars, in rich mixed tones with a heavy dose of purple, pink and gray. His trousers are best as full pants cut off at the calf, or ankle-length, very full pants. ("Please don't call them culottes," Ellis told one woman wearing them. "The word is so dated.")

The snow, sponsored by Saks-Jandel, also featured Ellis' above-knee skirts worn with thick hose and sometimes bushy socks.

Ellis, who is up for his second Coty Award this year and will be the one American to get the first Japanese award (being given as well to Giorgio Armani, Karl Lagerfeld, Zandra Rhodes and Hanae Mri), is the pet designer of many of the models. Among the Ellis sweater collectors are Mariel Hemingway, who canceled out on doing his Washington show at the last minute when her film group went back to work, Cheryl Tiegs, Farrah Fawcett, as well as Tatum O'Neal and just recently, Martina Navratilova.

Joan Mondale, the benefit's honorary chairman, admitted to Ellis that her daughter Eleanor, a college sophomore, is just beginning to get interested in clothes.

"She is into power-lifting," Mrs. Mondale said, a bit bashfully.

Replied Ellis, politician-style, "Weight-lifting is good for women. It doesn't build muscles. It only defines the body."