It's the one day of the year Washington celebrities are treated worse than anyone else at the party.

They wait in endless lines. They have their hair done by unfamiliar stylists and have to dress up in someone else's clothes. And while the other guests are served a four-course lunch, they get tea sandwiches.

The 190 celebrities who modeled clothes yesterday for the sixth annual Best of Washington fashion show/luncheon were crowded backstage at the Sheraton Washington Hotel ballroom to wait their turns on the runway before an audience of 1,550 people who paid $60 a ticket, all to go to the Capital Children's Museum.

And then they suffered the ultimate insult -- they were upstaged. As designer Bill Blass, who came to accept a humanitarian award, had predicted: "The children will steal the show."

Joanne Kemp, wife of Republican presidential candidate Jack Kemp, had no complaints about the Donna Karan ensemble chosen for her by Garfinckel's, though it was a little shorter than she might buy herself. Her daughter Jennifer, 24, wore a matching Karan. "It's gorgeous," she said, while purple eye shadow was stroked on her lids. "I already wear them this short."

Richard Berendzen, president of American University, was thrilled with the fancy Malaisy outfit Raleigh's chose for his daughter Natasha, 16. "Most of the time she's in the Che Guevara period of dress," he said.

But Alfreda Malone, who modeled for Hecht's with her sons Moses Jr., 7, and Michael, 3, said she usually dresses them in less "preppy-looking things ... European cuts."

Rep. Mickey Edwards (R-Okla.), who modeled with his wife Lisa, wasn't nervous about his first walk down a runway. "I trip virtually every day," he said, "so I don't think anything about it."

Celebrity hairdresser Robin Weir said he was considering buying the $9,000 ankle-length beaver coat he wore for Bloomingdale's. "I am a little too happy with it, if you know what I mean." Weir, who already owns six other furs, was one of the few men in the makeup room. "How about a little concealer?" he asked an Este'e Lauder representative. "And some of that spackle putty for my nose?"

After two hours of prepping, the celebrities were lined up, single file, for the runway. All except seven -- including NBC correspondent Andrea Mitchell and actress Teri Copley of NBC's "We Got It Made" -- who were held captive in the Black Starr and Frost dressing room until they appeared before the crowd wearing $4 million in jewelry.

The final trial took place outside the hotel as the 190 lined up again to go. Those who didn't come by limo were forced to share cabs home.