The Writer Who Dressed White

Though she was reclusive, rarely seen even by her neighbors, one imagines that the American poet Emily Dickinson, like Mark Twain, always dressed in white. So it is no surprise that the sole surviving garment from Dickinson's wardrobe is a white dress, which will soon be on display in Washington. "The white dress was metaphorically associated with her spiritual stance," says Katharine Zadravec, project director of the Emily Dickinson conference and of an exhibition that will open at the Folger Shakespeare Library in May. "We know for sure that when her Atlantic Monthly editor came to meet her she was wearing a white dress with a blue shawl," says Zadravec.

When asked for a portrait, Dickinson described herself, in a letter that will be in the exhibition, as "small, like a Wren, and my Hair is bold, like the Chestnuts -- and my eye, like the Sherry in the Glass that the Guests leave." A lock of her reddish-brown hair will be in the case with the dress.

When she invited someone to her home for morning coffee, Dickinson would have worn a wrapper like this button-front, figured cotton, pleated dress. Lent to the Folger by the Amherst Historical Society, the dress normally hangs in her bedroom on the second floor of the family xl homestead in Amherst, Mass.

Susan Wallace,sw,-2 sk,2 ld,10 model maker for the exhibits office at the Smithsonian, used the figure of a 12-year-old boy as a model for the display mannequin for the dress. She reshaped the arms and legs of the mannequin to give it a graceful stance and added a bosom and padding at the back -- called a bum roll in those days -- to give the dress the presence of a 19th-century dress. Kathleen Betts of Anderson House hand-washed the dress over fiberglass screens to keep the fabric from stretching and ripping. After rinsing in distilled water, the dress was hung to dry, reinforced and patched.

The exhibition will be at the Folger Library from May 4 through June 30. Gems of the Craft Show

This weekend's Washington Craft Show is a long way from a Renaissance fair or a street bazaar -- it's slick and modern with well-designed booths, spotlighting and museum-style displays. But slick doesn't mean compromised quality or mass-marketed styles.

This year's selection of jewelry is superb. Among the best: Stuart Golder, who is here from Cincinnati for his fourth year at the craft show with his "woven gold" works, done on a metal loom of his own design. "I've gotten up to 120 epi (ends per inch), but I read about a loom in China that gets 600," he says longingly. Golder applies these enchanting weavings to textured gold bead necklaces, cuff links and perhaps the smartest gold wedding rings in memory. Larry Seegers from New York City has a selection of gold-plated and sterling earrings in soft organic shapes for reasonable prices. Philadelphia's Charlie Buck translates spare and lighthearted postmodern designs into her jewelry using coils and arrows, flat circles and balls held on curved tubes like orbiting planets. Peggy Simmons from Tallahassee makes cloisonne' patches that look like miniature Paul Klee paintings on mechanical-looking silver pieces -- some become necklaces and some hang from her version of a safety pin.

Partners in design and marriage, Philadelphia's Barbara Mail and Rod McCormick have learned to harmonize their esthetic sensibilities as well as share the labor. "I cook and she does the laundry," McCormick says.

A Mail/McCormick series of dangling earrings do look like long fishing lures. "Rod has this shirt an old girlfriend gave him. It shows the insect and then the lure that's meant to imitate it," laughs Mail. McCormick steps in: "It's not taken directly from the shirt -- everything goes in and percolates in here," he says, pointing to his temple. Mail nods. -- By M.S. Dailey Bound by Baubles And Chains

It's not a great distance from a vendor stand on P Street in Georgetown to the counters of some fine boutiques. Elaine Welsh and Anna Buchanan made the leap in less than four months.

They had been best pals as kids in London, sharing everything, including the jewelry they both love to wear. Even though they lost track of each other while they studied fashion at different art schools, there was an unspoken pact that one day they would work together.

Buchanan married an American and moved to Washington; Welsh came to visit. Now they talked a lot about what they might do. They had $500 between them to put into a business. Clothing wouldn't do because each item would be too big an investment, so they decided on jewelry. They spent $300 on beads and findings, $100 for a vending license and $100 for a tool kit and other things, including a table from Hechinger's and some black velvet to display their wares. "The first day out we made $45. We were ecstatic to go home with $20 each," says Welsh.

But now they sell the jewelry they make in a Capitol Hill basement to more than 100 shops around the country. In Washington it is Urban Outfitters for their tamer and less expensive things, Exclusivo for the more elaborate designs.

Although they expect to do $100,000 wholesale this year, they still occasionally take their jewelry back to the basement of Healy Hall on the Georgetown campus. "They were our best customers when we started. We don't want to forget them," says Welsh. At Bloomingdale's, India Is In

Chintz, bandanna, khaki, dungarees and madras are all words of Indian origin, but it is the unique Indian craftsmanship as well as the fabrics that sets apart the clothes and furnishings in the India promotion at all the Bloomingdale's stores. Designers have long taken advantage of Indian skill with beading -- Oscar de la Renta and Mary McFadden are among those whose intricate beaded dresses are hand-embroidered in India.

Some of McFadden's beading is part of the new Bloomingdale's promotion, and Ralph Lauren, who has always loved such Indian fabrics as madras and khaki, has expanded on these themes in clothes for men, women and boys as well as in home furnishings. It is hard to believe that Lauren has never been to India.

Some of the most popular items in the collection are bound to be those designed by Bloomingdale's own staff, which has things manufactured in India on an ongoing basis. Among them are the madras wrap dresses and easy white cottons for summer, as well as such home furnishings as brass lamps, candlesticks and goblets that have been polished to look like brass, steel, copper or all three, and pillows embroidered with the fine detail work from Rajastani wedding skirts. "The craftsmanship level in India is so high it should be supplying the world," Bloomingdale's Vice President Julian Tomchin told guests at a kickoff luncheon in White Flint recently. Designers on the Bridal Path

Note de la mode: Addressing the wedding question, Marc Bohan of Christian Dior HAS CREATED THE WEDDING DRESS for television anchor Maria Shriver; Carolina Herrera is rumored to be making the wedding dress for Caroline Kennedy (who, by the way, is sporting has a new short haircut.) -- and Lindka Cierachxr has il,7p reportedly been tapped to make the wedding dress for Sarah Ferguson, fiance' of Prince Andrew.

Also noteworthy, an unkind slip of the camera on last Tuesday night's episode of "Moonlighting" revealed Cybill Shepherd in her usual neat suit . . . with running shoes.xl