The real reason Seventeen magazine photographed its August fashion spread in Washington is that it had to be shot in April, and this area guaranteed good weather plus "good campuses and outdoor locations that work well to showcase fashions," said Murfy Alexander, spokeswoman for the magazine. Besides, Seventeen hadn't used Washington as a backdrop in years.

What the magazine found, surprise! was that the 300 or more who answered its request for models were more fashion conscious than those in other cities, which shall remain nameless, Alexander says. And the good outdoor locations translated well into showcase fashions. Particularly fashion-smart were the young women from the National Cathedral School. "They were well aware of designer names, and were familiar with the funny twists on varsity styles that are important for fall."

The magazine scouted models at Georgetown University as well as at the National Cathedral School and found the younger crowd "less preppie than the college students," said Sandy deNicolais, senior fashion editor. DeNicolais expects the tartan separates, a look that started in Paris and London last spring, to be one of the big hits this fall.

Several students who modeled for this issue of Seventeen will appear in the magazine's fashion show in coordination with Woodies this Saturday at Columbia Mall.