Klein & Lagerfeld: Shoe and Tell

Calvin Klein was almost late for a dinner recently -- he couldn't get his shoe trees out of his new made-to-order Lobb shoes. The trees were obviously so perfectly carved to fit, Klein called his elevator man to help free the shoes so they could be worn.

One of the people to whom Klein confessed this story was Paris-based designer Karl Lagerfeld, during the recent Fashion Group dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria's Starlight Roof. Lagerfeld had a solution. "You must be ordering your Lobb shoes in London. If you order them from Lobb in Paris the shoes and shoe trees will fit better," insisted Lagerfeld, who wears only Lobb shoes himself.

Lagerfeld had compliments as well as advice for Klein, who has been a friend for more than 10 years. "I'm mad for Obsession. I buy it for Princess Caroline -- it is all she wears," he said. "Don't buy it, I'll send it to you," replied the flattered Klein. "I don't think you want to do that," Lagerfeld said. "She keeps it in every room of the palace. That's a lot of Obsession."

Klein said he was now working on a version of Obsession for men -- that's what he'll call it in fact.

Lagerfeld pulled from his tuxedo pocket his white hankie and permitted Klein to smell the new men's fragrance he's working on. "I love it," Klein said after some thoughtful whiffs and he was amazed that the fragrance had by then lasted seven hours.

Klein talked about his recent promotional store visits in Boston for Obsession. In the audience was his daughter, Marci Klein, a college student in the area, when a not-so-proper Bostonian in her mid-fifties asked Klein: "If I buy your fragrance will I have sex with my husband tonight?" Klein, who is rarely speechless, howled: Lagerfeld did too. Washington's Night for the Opera

It wasn't just the setting and the very dressed up crowd that separated this from other recent fashion shows in Washington. The clothes were couture -- read that as top of the line, made to order and very pricey, bought by women like Christina Onassis and Ivana Trump. Princess Sophie de Wurtemberg, directrice of the house, tried to avoid specifics. "People don't understand the hand workmanship," she said, but then admitted that the prices start at $3,000 for a dress and go up "to an eternity." What's eternity? With a bit of coaxing it turned out to be more than $20,000 but less than $30,000.

According to Robert Ricci, who founded the company with his mother, the late Nina Ricci, it was the strong dollar that encouraged Ricci to revive Ricci ready-to-wear 18 months ago. "I realized that because of the dollar exchange I could manufacture the clothes in France and still sell affordable high quality clothes in this country," he explained.

Washington Opera woman's board member Jamie Craft reminded Ricci of dresses she still owned from earlier boutique collections. "My very first evening dress was a Nina Ricci," said Craft, who is the daughter of model mogul Eileen Ford.

Guests got a clear view of favorite fashion themes in Paris these days as done well by Ricci designer Gerard Pipart and shown by eight Paris models: hoods, fur trims, clear colors, shiny fabrics and skinny silhouettes. Some of the strapless evening dresses were so tight they looked glued on. Others had flounced hems to underscore the lean look.

In contrast were a couple of full-blown taffeta gowns that seemed appropriate for "Turandot" or even "Pagliacci," as board member Nina Pillsbury pointed out. "I've always said there was a close tie between opera and fashion," said Feinstein. Donna Karan's Dry Wit

The person most surprised to learn her television commercial for the deodorant Dry Idea is being aired nationally is Donna Karan.

"There were two versions, the first which shows I'm no actress. And the second for which I could get an immediate movie contract." The second one had a technical flaw and couldn't be used. Karan, who has been tremendously busy with her own collection, hasn't had time yet to reshoot the commercial.

She agreed to the commercial, she said, because she could control the story line and because she liked the idea that they were using up-and-coming people to endorse the product -- others include Robert Woods, the guy who plays Beau Buchanon on "One Life to Live," Dan Reeves, the Denver Broncos coach, and comedian Elayne Boosler.

The commercial's story line, and Karan, is terrific. She gives "three nevers" in fashion design: "Never confuse fad with fashion. Never forget it's your name on every label. And, when you're showing your line to the press, never let them see you sweat."

In the second version, which hasn't aired yet, Karan added another savvy bit of advice for those starting their own business: "Never make dinner plans!" Guess Who's Coming To Washington?

Issey Miyake, Geoffrey Beene, Karl Lagerfeld, Donna Karan to name a few. Miyake is coming to visit the Air and Space Museum; Beene, Karan, Lagerfeld and many others want to see the "Treasure Houses of Britain" exhibition at the National Gallery.

All have agreed to take time out while here for individual informal conversations about design, which will be open to a limited number of the public.

Nothing like starting at the top. On Nov. 24, Miyake, who Yvonne Deslandres, curator of the Muse'e des Arts Decoratifs at the Louvre, calls the "greatest creator of clothing of our time," will take part in the first in the occasional series. He'll talk about his clothes while showing slides at The Washington Post. For further information call 334-7969. Paloma Picasso's Gray Day at Hecht's

Imagine Paloma Picasso showing up at Hecht's wearing gray. "I hope I didn't disappoint anyone by not wearing red," said Picasso, whose looks in person live up to her last name -- sharp black eyes, bright red lips, a pitch-black helmet of hair, aspirin-white skin and a carved nose. "One day I showed up in a bright green dress and people were shocked -- as though I had become another person," she told the crowd downtown that had a chance to glimpse the designer and her fragrance.

She was wearing a tight black jersey shirt under a very fitted gray suit by Yves Saint Laurent, one of her favorite designers, she says, along with Azzedine Alaia, Karl Lagerfeld and Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel. But Picasso had on her own jewelry, of course. Hanging on a thick gold chain around her neck was an emerald-cut citrine the color of a chartreuse aperitif and the size of a Tiffany paperweight.

"Esthetically I'm secure, but didn't know if I could use my nose," said Picasso, daughter of this century's most celebrated artist. When developing the fragrance she kept telling a fragrance specialist that it smelled too green and "that I'd like it to be rounder. I don't know if you can feel the roundness of it, but I do," she said. "That's why I designed a round bottle -- really taken from a pair of earrings from my jewelry collection for Tiffany . I thought it would tie together my past as a jewelry designer to my move into fragrance."

She's been busy with the creation of the Muse'e Picasso in Paris that opened this fall. The museum is "spectacular," says the beauty, who inherited not only $20 million worth of art from her father Pablo Picasso, but his tremendous drive as well.

What's next? "I'd like to rest a little." -- M.S. Dailey