Even before she put one well-shod foot out the door on her latest shopping spree, Diana, princess of Wales, was contributing to soaring shoe sales. Clark's, a shoe chain with a store on High Street in London, claims its factories are working overtime to meet the demand for a mid-heel pump just like the one Diana prefers. The chain claims to have sold more than a million pairs of what it calls the low-heeled court shoe, which costs 14.99 ($25.88).

If you noticed the tiny print in the Merry Britches catalogue, then you undoubtedly noticed the unbuttoned shirtcuff in the adjoining picture. Explains the small type, "When we noticed it , it was too late to do anything about it."

The season of extravagant purchases is on. Bob Sakowitz, who carried the Sakowitz Christmas catalogue through the collections in Paris and down to Ideacomo, the textile exhibition in Como, Italy, was keeping track of current orders. Among the first purchases was a 24-karat gold American Express shopping card, sold for $3,000 to Sammy Davis Jr. and three others. No problem if you can't afford to buy anything after you've bought the plate. The card isn't usable. It's too soft to survive a run through the card machine.

Eleni is back at the typewriter. After spending more than 25 years as fashion editor of the late Washington Star, Eleni takes over shortly as editor of The Fashion Newsletter, a capsulized fashion report on trends used by designers, manufacturers, retailers, editors, consumers and students. "It's for anyone who wants to be six months ahead of the fashion trends," says Eleni.

Among the tips from a recent newsletter: the pin-on pigtail for evening, leather eyeglass frames, herringbone swimsuits and platform shoes.

Peter Nagan, who owns and publishes several newsletters, recently bought The Fashion Newsletter from Leona Bowman.

At last, designer originals you can really count on being original. Washington Fashion Group has collected signed works of art by Bill Blass, Geoffrey Beene, Michaele Vollbracht, Ottavio Missoni, Zandra Rhodes and Yannis Tseklenis and others for a silent auction to benefit the Smithsonian's First Ladies Fellowship for the study of costume in America. Nancy Reagan, who proposed the scholarship when she gave her inaugural gown to the First Ladies Exhibition at the Smithsonian, is chairman of the event set for 8:30 p.m. Nov. 10 near the pendulum at the National Museum of American History. The invitation to the event, which is called Vernissage IV, is a collector's item in itself. It is a watercolor by fashion artist Antonio.

With all the talk about long skinny skirts and short skinny skirts, let's not forget that a lot of people are still wearing pants. In Europe, on the runway and off, many pants are cropped above the ankle. The Kenzo crowd in Paris likes its trousers baggy for comfort and short for color -- the bright colored socks that usually show up underneath. Those same Kenzo trousers, with all the fullness in front and a smooth fit over the hips and back, are shipped to Washington full length, according to Micheline Peker of La Boutique Francaise, who shortens them for those who want the Paris look.

It is a most unlikely twosome. Elena Zlotescu was a fashion designer who did costumes for the National Theatre in Bucharest and taught fashion as well. When she came to Washington in 1979 she designed and produced costumes for the Hartke Theatre at Catholic University and taught costume and stage makeup at George Mason University.

Kathleen MacMillan was born in Northern Ireland where her sewing skills were honed on the habits she wore in a convent. As a Marianite Sister of Holy Cross in Princeton, N.J., her design for a new habit was adopted and worn by the sisters there for many years.

Father Vance Hartke introduced the two women, who have formed KathElena, a fashion-design business whose work is part custom and part ready-made. (Neiman-Marcus recently placed a firm order, according to MacMillan.)

"Experience in the theater helps you have a strong imagination," says Zlotescu. "It also teaches you how to build clothes."

Knowing costume history also helps. "When I design I don't think of a particular sleeve from the 16th century, but it is in my subconscious," Zlotescu said. "It is a mix of the old costume and today, and the design ends up being totally mine." CAPTION: Picture 1, Former Washington Star fashion editor, Eleni, becomes the new editor of The Fashion Newsletter. This original Bill Blass sketch can be yours. It is among signed works of art to be auctioned for the Smithsonian's First Ladies Fellowship for the study of costume in America. Photo by Ray Lustig -- The Washington Post; Picture 2, The designers behind KathElena, Elena Zlotescu and Kathleen MacMillan.; Picture 3, Kenzo's baggy pants have all the fullness in front and a smooth fit over the hips and back and are available at La Boutique Francaise. Photos Copyright (c) Peter Lindbergh and by Fred Sweets -- The Washington Post