PARIS -- Dragging for Fashion
It wasn't exactly the party of the season, and it certainly didn't resemble anything formal, not unless you count the odd tiara. But Suzanne Bartsch's party at Boy for several hundred drag queens, fashion types, night crawlers and the frankly bizarre was at least as good as any fashion show Paris saw all week.
If nothing else, the number of people who turned out in hot pants, sequins, fishnet, vinyl and girdles proved that designers aren't entirely off base: Somebody is wearing this stuff. Robert Forrest, the agreeable Englishman who represents the designer Rifat Ozbek, turned out in Pucci leggings, this season's indispensable tunic (in baby blue) and a pair of high heels pasted with sequins. His blond wig was vaguely arranged in the style favored by Ivana Trump.
"Everybody's here!" he shouted. "The girls from Vogue. Freddie."
Freddie is Freddie Leiba, the fashion director of Harper's Bazaar, who wore a vest with shimmering blue paillettes. Above Freddie's head sat a young man in a swing. Now and then he swung out over the dance floor, his rainbow paillette hot pants twinkling in the strobe lights. Up on the stage, a drag queen in a white tutu was tossing handfuls of glitter at everyone. The hostess, a self-styled party thrower from New York, wore a red tutu. And, by comparison, a man wearing what appeared to be a paper soda jerk hat and a tan suit looked rather bland. But he seemed to be having a good time.
Long about 2:30 a.m., Jean-Paul Gaultier arrived. Since his ideas are largely drawn from this kind of crowd and, in fact, parallel the current club mood for '70s kitsch in a Deee-lite groove, his appearance was something of an affirmation. In a sweaty basement club, on the last day of the Paris collections, fashion had come full circle.
Cheaper by Gigli
Now that he has a perfume, a range of sunglasses, three stores and a fourth opening Thursday in New York, Romeo Gigli has decided he needs another line of clothes. The energetic Italian designer, who recently moved his Paris operations into Patrick Kelly's old showroom in the Marais, will produce a lower-priced collection for next fall. Called G. Gigli, it will be manufactured by Stefanel, the trendy sportswear chain, and sold mostly in department stores.
Aside from giving Gigli fans a substantial price break (cotton shirts for around $60), the deal puts a crimp on imitators. Gigli's signature looks -- those mannish jackets in luxury fabrics, gauzy blouses and monastic coats with lavish embroidery -- are widely copied. But as Gigli rationalizes, "If people are copying me, then I'm sure I must be doing something they like."
Among the more peculiar fashion statements to emerge this season is the apron. As a domestic throwback, it doesn't exactly whip up enthusiasm for housework in hat and heels. Nor does one relish the convenience (if that's what it is) of wearing an ensemble ostensibly designed for bringing home the bacon and frying it too.
Of course, the high-fashion apron is a gag, but gags have a way of getting out of hand. Thierry Mugler's vinyl bibs, affixed to gingham playsuits, offer a sponge-off feature that dress manufacturers might take seriously. Clearly, Yohji Yamamoto takes his aprons seriously: Suspended from cords, they hang in white folds over bodysuits like the day's washing. This is a novel way of dressing, if you don't mind mixing domestic. metaphors. At the very least, the high-fashion apron will add new luster to the conventional kind -- not that it needs much improvement.
Cheaper by the Dozen
Victor Costa, who's been knocking off French fashion for 25 years, was in Paris last week for the spring shows. Officially, he was the guest of Christian Dior, which has a contract with the Texas designer to produce a line of dresses. Though it's more intriguing to imagine Costa skulking around the runways under cover of sketch pad, he says he's never been barred or escorted from any French show. He regards the Dior deal, his first with a haute couture house, "as a validation of what I do."
So while Gianfranco Ferre was sending out models swathed in chiffon and lace, Costa was in the audience "interpreting" the house designer's main points. Chief among them, in Costa's view, were caning prints and sweet white-lace dresses. "I think American women will love them," he said.
Stores will too. Costa says Bloomingdale's plans to display the first round of his dresses, priced from $400 to $1,000, in its New York windows this week. And as if he needs any further validation, a CBS film crew tailed Costa around Paris for a segment to be aired Nov. 21.
More Permanent Wave
Thierry Mugler has given new meaning to the helmet hairdo -- you know, the do that resists wind, comb and, most likely, killer bees. His latest fetish is the hard plastic wig, in half a dozen Easter egg colors with matching chin straps. Far more invincible than the average human bouffant, its only drawback is rapid meltdown.
Lining Up for Linda
People who view dresses for a living are constantly reminding themselves that fashion, after all, isn't rocket science. They try to look blase, as if they have better things to do than go to fashion shows and dinner parties. But when a famous model suddenly appears in their path, they forget themselves and walk into posts.
So when Linda Evangelista, whose cropped hair and mile-long legs appear regularly in Vogue, emerged from the Chanel show in a red Chanel mini suit and black motorcycle helmet, a small crowd gathered. Cameras clicked. Grown women asked for her autograph. Then she stepped off the curb, hiked up her mini and elegantly climbed on the back of a motorcycle driven by a male companion in black leather. Everyone seemed to find this amusing, and smiled at one another.