The first annual Twelfth Night Ball was not only an important fundraiser for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, it gave many guests a chance to show off those gowns bought for the upcoming inaugural. If the Monday night event at the new J. W. Marriott Hotel is a clue, long, lean and often black dresses will predominate at the inaugural festivities.

Among the best dresses at the ball: a dark-red pleated silk by Mary McFadden, worn by ball chairman and Garfinckel's president Hanne Merriman; a deep-red flocked chiffon, lean and long dress by Anna Weatherly, worn by Elen Morell; a black and gold dress Alexine Jackson made for herself; and Margot Howar's Givenchy gown, also in black and gold.

Garfinckel's fashion director Aniko Gaal was busy coaching some of the guests on the other fashion message of the evening: cross-sexual dressing, explicit in the imaginative costumes of the entertainment group La Clique. At one point Gaal tried to convince Dr. Tucker Dalton, an ophthalmologist, that he might find chiffon shirts very becoming on men. Dalton would have none of it. "The truth is, I had chiffon shirts made in Brazil for my former husband," Gaal admitted later. "I ended up wearing them all myself."