Naomi Sims, Still Putting Her Best Face Forward Naomi Sims might not make it as a model today. "There's a trend toward lighter-skinned black models," she says. She also would not have gone along with the trend toward more voluptuous bodies that has prompted some models to have breast implants. "I would have gone with my God-given figure," she said. "It's tall and graceful and looks well in clothes. No implants."
No matter. Sims, the first black model to make the covers of a major fashion magazines (and later, the cover of Life, October 1969), has become the epitome of the natural black beauty.
She was at Woodies last week promoting her new skin care line for black women, an idea that evolved over a period of 10 years while she researched and later revised her successful book "All About Health and Beauty for the Black Woman." Sims says she discovered that black women's skin is in poorer condition today than it was 30 years ago -- due to air pollution, diet and stress. And, she says, "Being black and female starts one off very low on the success ladder and this wreaks havoc with the skin."
Hers is a family business with her sister Betty and her brother-in-law Alex Erwiah. Key items are a body conditioner that hydrates the skin and a top coat -- a body polisher -- that locks in moisture and oil. "We are all prone to ashen skin, as black people," says Sims. There are also cleansers geared to resolve the common problem of postteen-age skin bumps. Black women, Sims says, buy expensive briefcases, shoes, suits and blouses to achieve a sense of style and a look of success. "But none of this is required," Sims says, "if she has beautiful skin."
If their skin is often in poorer condition today, however, their hair is often better, Sims says, and she takes credit for some of that. Her wigs -- a $750,000-a-year business -- let hair grow healthfully underneath, she says. She has other products in the works, including a fragrance planned for 1988. But first, she says, "I'm interested in cleaning up the skin of black American women."
In Hair Styles, the News Is Big, Big, BIG! It used to be that the biggest hairdos showed up in desert towns like Las Vegas or Palm Springs, or sometimes on the TV show "Hee Haw." And then, Palm Beach has its share of big hair too. Lately the same grand coiffes -- teased and sprayed hair mountains -- have been showing up in fashion magazines like "Details," and on the hip streets of downtown New York City.
"It's like big hair is the last rebellion," says offbeat auteur John Waters, who recently brought some beehives to Baltimore.
"There used to be a lot of big hairdos here," says Waters of his hometown. "But now they wear their hair like Farrah Fawcett -- you know, 10 years too late."
Waters does know his dos. His latest movie, "Hairspray," is set in Baltimore in 1962, and the picture (to be released in early 1988) may have set a new record for hairdos. Hair "designer" Christine Mason, who worked on other Waters films -- "Female Trouble," "Pink Flamingos" and "Polyester" -- went through $3,000 worth of hair spray for this one. "And that's wholesale," Waters says.
"We used the airlift, the split-level and the double-bubble dos," Waters says of the vintage hair styles Mason re-created for him. "And, the artichoke. You know that's the one that looks like petals of hair in the front?"
Singer Debbie Harry, who stars with Sonny Bono and Divine, has the biggest hair of all -- a three-foot-high blond meringue-like hairdo held together with metal supports. "The hairdo hurt," Waters says sympathetically. "She got ridges in her head from it." Harry wasn't the only one to complain. A film editor on "Hairspray" says they are having a little trouble in the cutting room ... keeping the hair in the frame. Patterned, After Donna Karan More good reasons to stretch, and sew your own. Designer Donna Karan has signed on with Vogue Patterns and her ideas for fall -- the bodysuits, basic skirts and pants, double-breasted jackets, short dresses and coats -- have been boiled down to four different patterns, in Sizes 6 to 16, each selling for $9.50.The message of Karan's fall collection is "stretch" and her patterns are unusually simple to sew, according to Koko Beall, design director of Vogue Patterns. For Karan, the wool color choice is simple. "I believe everything in life should be done in black jersey."
The Washington Post will list area sewing classes in the Style section, Sunday, Sept. 6. If you offer sewing classes to the public, please send information about the classes -- including times, fees and skills required -- to Martha Dailey, Fashion Department, The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. Information must be received by Aug. 28. Hides and Peeks Washington women are beginning to catch on to the leather skirt. In fact, many women, testing the new shorter lengths for fall, are investing in one skirt, and for many it's the $70 leather skirt from Hecht's.
But while it is slow in coming to Washington, the black leather skirt is a classic elsewhere -- in fact so downright ladylike that Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel, Hubert de Givenchy in Paris and even Adolfo, New York designer-to-the-ladies, include leather skirts in their collections.
Once you've caught on to the comfort of leather skirt there is lots leather to wear. Few handle leather more dramatically than North Beach Leather, a San Francisco-based store whose following includes Cher, Diana Ross, Tina Turner and Paul McCartney. The company's catalogue is available by writing North Beach Leather Catalogue Division, P.O. Box 640682, San Francisco, Calif. 94164. Notes de la Mode
Where have all the hairdressers gone? Gone to nightclubs every one. In case you need a midnight comb-out or a touchup on your withering do, a visit to Dakota or Cities nightclubs in Adams-Morgan might find you in the company of your most favorite hair stylists. Stylish stylist Dennis Roche, of the Roche Salon, and Ilo's charming English gentleman/hairdresser Ron Braso have turned up at Dakota, while stylist Connie Dollinger and the stunning facialist Leanne Lonsdale Hands from the same salon have showed up at Cities. Bernard at Okyo has been seen not only in the boite at Cities, but also at the downstairs cafe'.
"When any new place opens up, they make a point of inviting us," says Braso, director of Ilo. "After all, we are a little more partyish ... and we do talk to people all day long and they ask us 'Where's the place to go these days?' "
Madonna will be taking some time off from her second honeymoon in Paris with Sean Penn next week. The singer has appointments for fittings at Christian Lacroix. -- Martha Sherrill Dailey