Dave's Best-dressed Picks

TO WIT

March 14, 1993|By DAVE BARRY

Recently I had the honor of being asked to vote in th International Best Dressed Poll. According to the information accompanying the Official Ballot, this is a worldwide poll, conducted annually since 1940, of 1,000 "fashion professionals, journalists and others with the daily opportunity to see fashion at its best."

I was very proud to be asked to vote, although in all honesty I should note that I was not, technically, asked by the Best Dressed Poll Committee. I was asked by Ellie Brecher, who received a ballot because she used to cover fashion for the Miami Herald. She gave me her ballot because she was busy trying to get somebody to adopt an extra dog she had acquired.

Ellie collects stray animals. One time she collected a chicken, named Chuck E. Chicken, which she found wandering around as a baby (I mean the chicken was a baby). When you went over to Ellie's place, there would be Chuck, striding nervously around on the floor, trying not to get stepped on, shooting her head forward and back in the manner of chickens and middle-aged people trying to read restaurant menus.

Ellie has acquired a stray dog, a Dalmatian named Maybelline, because, as Ellie notes, "she looks like she's wearing eye makeup." Ellie can't keep Maybelline, because she (Ellie) already has three dogs, including one named Harpo, who has asthma, which means that Ellie has to squirt a nasal inhaler up each of Harpo's nostrils twice a day, a procedure that, if you count the time required to get Harpo calmed down afterward, can consume as much as seven hours per nostril. Thus we see why, what with one thing and another, Ellie simply did not have time to participate in this year's International Best Dressed Poll.

To help voters decide whom to vote for, the Poll Committee sent along a recommended list of "international personalities," including princes, princesses, counts, duchesses, entertainment stars, moguls and people with names such as -- this is a real name -- "Mrs. Sumner Pingree III." You just know that a person with a name like that has a monthly footwear budget larger than your mortgage payment.

Also included with the ballot was a list of people who have been inducted into the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame, including Ronald Reagan, Mrs. Henry Kissinger, Queen Elizabeth and Bianca Jagger. I'm sure these international personalities all deserve the honor, although in all candor the queen does occasionally appear in public wearing what appears to be motel furniture on her head. But we all have fashion lapses.

I feel compelled at this time to tell you about the Nov. 13, 1992, issue of the Brazilian newspaper Jornal Brasil, which was sent in by alert reader James Phillips. The front page features two large color photographs of Henry Kissinger, former U.S. secretary of state and winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace, aggressively picking his nose at a trade conference in Rio de Janeiro. I am not making this up. The first photo shows Mr. Kissinger sitting with his translation earphones on and a little American flag in front of him. He has that faraway look that guys get when engaged in nasal maneuvers; his whole consciousness appears to be centered in his left pinkie, which is wedged deep into his left nostril. In the second photo, he has the same look on his face, only now he is holding something between his thumb and his forefinger.

The caption under the pictures makes no mention of this. Apparently the Jornal Brasil did not wish to cause any embarrassment for Mr. Kissinger, other than to run two large color photographs of him on the front page.

I felt bad for Henry, so I decided, as a humanitarian gesture, to vote for him in the International Best Dressed Poll. I had a harder time deciding whom to vote for in the women's category, but I finally settled on an individual who has perfected an elegant yet exuberant look, a brand-new "take" on the classic black-and-white motif. This is an individual with breeding, personality, soulful eyes and -- above all -- a keen sense of smell. I refer of course to Maybelline Brecher.

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