When a pretty young woman walks past dressed in a costume consisting of 100 Butterfinger candy bar wrappers pinned -- a close look discloses -- onto a white leotard, one may assume there's something strange going on.

It was an "ice cream fashion show" featuring 11 women, two men and 11 scandalously rich and delicious urns of ice cream and platters of ice cream confections, such as a model of the Swiss Alps crafted from orange chip ice cream, with a "snow" cover of vanilla ice cream. Among other items, I sampled a chocolate almond fudge "ice cream bomb" flown in from my California birthplace, Oakland.

The event at the Washington Hilton was sponsored by the International Association of Ice Cream Manufacturers, a Washington-based industry group, to mark the publication of a paperback book, "The Very Best: Ice Cream and Where to Find It." Written by Carol T. Robbins and Herbert Wolff, it lists more than 200 top ice cream makers and flavors, including several in the Washington area. (For information about the book, call the ice cream association at 296-4250.)

The Butterfinger girl, by the way, was Stephanie Phelan, a Catholic University drama student, who delivered ice cream flavored with chunks from that candy bar and made in Washington by Bob's Famous Homemade Ice Cream. She works in Bob's store on Massachusetts Avenue NE.