You would have thought someone would have worn red high-heeled shoes to the Sun King exhibition opening this week at the Corcoran Gallery. Louis XIV loved to wear them; in fact, the exhibit includes two pictures of him with them on. Apparently he kicked off the trend when he emerged from a slaughterhouse with blood on his heels. French shoe designer Roger Vivier once showed red-heel shoes to go with Yves Saint Laurent dresses.

Whatever, no men showed up flashing Louis XIV's other fashion fixation, his legs. It is clear from his favorite portrait poses that he loved to show them off, first as a young man in red tights and later in white tights. In fact, he had nice legs.

What Washington needs is a place for people to strut in their best duds. It is hardly the kind of palace you build overnight. The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Grand Hall is such a place and that is probably why the galas held there are so . . . well, gala. Last week's benefit gala for the Costume Institute was a perfect example.

There wasn't much space to show off fancy duds at the Corcoran and maybe that's why the clothes were low-key. But many of the men and women looked splendid.

If there was one message, it was pearls, particularly the pearl-embroidered Galanos gown worn by Samia Farouki; the long, but really long pearls worn bandolier-style by Stephanie Greene; Barbara knotted pearls and chain (worn over the hips, too); and Helga Orfila's boldly fake pearl choker and drop earrings.

National Museum of Women's Art director Billie Holladay was wearing a black jacquarded silk jacket with free-form cutout applique's in bright colors but had no idea of the designer. Dorothy Marks checked the back of the jacket and still had no clue. (It was by Levino Verna.) Gilbert Kinney had no trouble identifying the designer of his gold fan vest -- he found the fabric and had it made in Hong Kong.