Cover girl is a computerized hybrid

August 11, 1994|By Anne-Marie Schiro | Anne-Marie Schiro,New York Times News Service

Computerized beauty

The September issue of Mirabella carries the cover line "Who is the face of America?" next to the image of a blank-eyed young woman with flawless suntanned skin, perfect pink lips and damp brown hair that falls below her shoulders.

Traces of sand and droplets of moisture cling to her face and bare shoulder as if she'd just emerged from the sea, like Botticelli's Venus.

She is just as much an ideal.

She's not a model or an actress or the girl next door, but a computerized collage of features of models of different ethnic backgrounds assembled by the photographer Hiro. The face has as much vitality and intelligence as a store mannequin. Is that how Mirabella sees the American woman?

"I wasn't trying to make her intelligent; I was just looking for the beauty in her," said Sam Shahid, Mirabella's artistic director, who collaborated with Hiro on developing the face.

"The September issue is about American beauty, and I told Hiro I really would like to find the new American beauty. We've always manufactured beauty, we in the industry, and we keep manufacturing the same beauty. But I didn't want a blonde with blue eyes. I wanted something darker, not French and not Italian, but a mix, something much more exotic. Like an alien."

"I think we're still searching for the new American beauty," he added. To Hiro, the face is a vision of the future. He used models of a variety of ethnic backgrounds but said he wasn't trying to achieve a mixture.

"If I used 10 percent of this and 10 percent of that to represent all the peoples of America, it would become a monster in a way," he added. "A cover shot has to be beautiful, intriguing."

Alien, monster or the face of the future? The readers of Mirabella will have to decide.

Art for the homeless

Todd Oldham made a collage of pictures of wristwatches, women's shoes, men's shirts, flowers and butterflies. Romeo Gigli took a Polaroid photograph of a Leica camera and Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garcons sent a Cindy Sherman photograph of a rather unconventional beauty who might be an elderly woman or a man in drag.

These are just some of many arresting images in The SoHo Journal coming out on Sept. 15, which includes contributions by 65 designers, fashion photographers, poets and artists.

It's the second annual edition of the journal, which is published by the SoHo Partnership to raise money to provide employment for the homeless.

"I wanted to take people from outside to interpret SoHo because SoHo has so many facets," said Robert Bergman-Ungar, this year's editor. "We want our message to be the positive side of homelessness, helping them get back into society."

Art for the homeless

In one scene of "The Client," Susan Sarandon is wearing a simple blouse with a touch of embroidery. The designer of the blouse, Andra Gabrielle, who works in the Chelsea district of Manhattan, didn't realize she'd made the big screen until she saw the movie.

But Ms. Gabrielle shows no signs of going Hollywood. She is more artist than designer, delighting in using the finest silk ribbons and the thinnest imaginable threads to make delicate rosettes or embroidered leaves on wisps of nightgowns and blouses.

"All the details are important to me," she said. "One garment may have 70 different threads. In order to survive in the commercial world, I have to do something no one else does, and something that can't be knocked off cheaply."

Although her designs are sold only at Barneys New York stores at prices ranging from $250 to $1,200, they have attracted customers who collect them the way a teen-ager might collect T-shirts.

"One woman ordered 12 pieces a few weeks ago, then went back and ordered six more," Ms. Gabrielle said, sounding amazed.

She's been making and selling clothes since she was a teen-ager in Beechurst, Queens, and has been collecting antique buttons, beads and laces almost as long.

The simplicity and elegance of her work and the way she reuses all materials, seem totally right for the mood of the '90s.

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