Yes, Virginia, the miniskirt has arrived.
And if there was any doubt about it for the guests, most of whom preferred long skirts, the message came through loud and clear in a lively fashion show presented last night to celebrate the opening of Nordstrom in Tysons Corner. The Seattle-based specialty store opens its first East Coast branch today.
Last night's gala celebration, underwritten by Nordstrom, netted $200,000 for Wolf Trap. More than 2,600 tickets were sold, no small number of them to retailers from other stores scouting the competition. Saks Fifth Avenue, for example, bought 30 tickets for the evening.
If the styles of Calvin Klein, Claude Montana, Patrick Kelly and other designers featured on the runway were considerably different from those in the audience, the crowd had no trouble finding things to cheer. The spectators applauded the male models, particularly those wearing bright-colored linen jackets and, later, those in day-glo running shorts. And they clearly liked the long dresses.
To John Nordstrom, cochairman of the chain, the difference between the Washington crowd and his California customers was not only the number of short skirts. "Washington is more elegant, California more showy." Nordstrom President Jim Nordstrom put the East-West contrast in a different way. "I haven't seen any polyester suits here," he said with a grin.
Even if the miniskirted women in the crowd were in the minority, they felt comfortable keeping up with the current styles. "I'm a convert," said Linda Greene, a vice chairman of the benefit evening. "I wouldn't wear anything else." "Knees are like feet. They are not very pretty," admitted Sally Horner, a nurse practitioner whose skirt was just an inch or two above her knee. She also likes longer styles. "I'm just afraid I won't find anything longer to wear for spring."
Catherine Cleveland, marketing manager for a builder and president of the Reston Board of Commerce, was wearing a short gray pouf dress she had made herself. "It was a little uncomfortable sitting in the car coming over, but now I feel great," she said.
Many of those in the audience were not convinced. "They are fine if you are a tootsy," said Jean Petersen, who is in medical sales, as she watched a group of short-skirted suits come down the runway. "I'm not sure that is any way to go to work."