Designerfishing boats? That's Vicky Tiel's next project -- she's mad for fishing. Tiel has a huge sailfish she caught herself mounted in her Paris office, from which she sells designer dresses.

Her appearance (without the sailfish) at Garfinckel's recently was a bit like coming home. She graduated from Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School and attended Parsons School of Design in New York, where she and her future partner, Mia Fonssagrives, were considered the two worst students. "At school they thought we had no future; we thought we were great," recalls Tiel.

In Paris Fonssagrives married designer Louis Feraud, and Tiel married Ron Berkeley, a makeup artist. Feraud helped them put on their first show and Berkeley, who did Elizabeth Taylor's makeup at that time, helped them get backing from Taylor for a shop of their own.

Tiel is now on her own -- no partners, no backers. She owns it all, including the fragrance currently being developed. "I'm frightened by all the buyouts. You are owned by one company one day, another the next. You never know whom you are going to end up in bed with," she said.

Since her first days in business, Tiel has made only short skirts, but now they are much tighter -- four inches narrower -- on the bottom than when she started 18 years back. "In the beginning the mini-dresses were unconstructed. Today they have a strict line and structure. In fact they are much like couture dresses," she says.

She's never really changed her style of design. "I don't do fashion; I'm a beauty expert," she said firmly. "I've never changed my fashion. I've only gotten more expensive." As she describes it, "I do glamor dresses that beautify the body -- draped dresses, ruffled, frilly and pouffed dresses. I'm flattered and happy that others have come around to doing my style. But when others move on to long and droopy things, I'll keep on in my own style."

Tiel's fishing started with trout near her home in Normandy. She now goes sport fishing off the coast of Florida, where she has won three tournaments. There soon will be a line of Vicky Tiel charter fishing boats in Key West. "I think in the next decade people will have a more pleasure-oriented life than a money-oriented life. There will be much less dictated fashion and people will wear what looks good and feels right to them." For Tiel, that means even while fishing.

India's Hats of State Most public figures are reluctant to put on hats, even their very own, for photographs. One leader who has no such hang-ups is India Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. In fact, he probably wins the prize for the most hat changes in one day -- at a meeting this month of Republic Day performers. He was pictured wearing turbans from Gujarat and Rajasthan, a cap from Himachal Pradesh and a stiff brimmed hat from Assam.

Patrick Kelly's Button Brigade

You could follow Patrick Kelly's footsteps this week by a colorful trail of buttons bows and black baby dolls. He was pulling them out of his overall pockets and pinning them on everyone he met Monday night at Saks Jandel, celebrating the upcoming opening of its next-door annex, the Right Stuff. Those not in the Kelly wake were left unadorned.

"I feel sort of naked without a baby, button or bow," customer Grace Bender said. Across the way, Val Cook's black cashmere sweater, bedecked with every kind of Kelly paraphernalia imaginable, was being pillaged. "I've given away half of my pins already," said Cook, vice president of Saks Jandel. "But no more."

Columnist Carl Rowan was on the receiving end of the event. He left the reception and fashion show with a pin and a promise. Rowan's pet charity, Project Excellence, a group that honors black high-schoolers excelling in English, will receive a scholarship and 5 percent of the Right Stuff's first-week sales.

The Right Stuff will offer party dresses, sportswear and work clothes for under $300. Kelly's new T-shirts, at $45 each, will grace the shop, but the rest of his collection will be sold next door at Saks Jandel.

Kelly's colorful spring show created a huge sensation. The designer's zany accessories -- wooden buttons, watermelon hats, fish earrings -- showed off his witty fabrics: dressy denim, zebra-striped knits, sea-green sequins, bandanna-prints. But the short, short, short hems are what drew the greatest reaction.

"Whoooooeeee," Rowan editorialized after the show. "I've heard of high couture, but that was hot."

Hot, but cooling off for Kelly's fall collection, which he returns to Paris to design next week. "I gave in last year and made some dresses that were too short," admits Kelly. "My next collection is going be longer -- with at least three things below the knee."

Martha Sherrill Dailey


They are offering a prize for the fashion designer with the best color sense, and our vote goes, hands down, to Christian Lacroix. Since his days at Jean Patou, Lacroix's remarkable color combinations have set him apart.

"He's one of the rare designers expressing himself in color," said Deeda Blair, who attended his recent couture collection. She gave as examples the coffee-colored evening dress with a front draped panel in an incredible pale blue, another with a panel in blush pink, and the tulip prints. "He has an unerring color sense," she said.

Blair is sure Lacroix will succeed with the lower-priced ready-to-wear collection he will first show next month. "At one point he showed a beautiful dress in white organdy with guipure lace reembroidered on the skirt for $17,000, and next showed lace printed on organdy, which will sell for far less," said Blair. "You know he can do it. He has a personal spirit, and an identity like Balenciaga, Givenchy and Yves Saint Laurent."

Boss Tweed

It's a far cry from punk, this fresh menswear look that has shown up on the streets of London. The major elements: a high-rise hairdo, tweed jacket and oval-shaped tortoise-shell glasses. Call it the Guy Pringle look -- he fits the part perfectly -- and you can see it Sunday nights on PBS' "Masterpiece Theatre" series "Fortunes of War."