Fashion circuit gets hung up on cellular phones

March 02, 1995|By Vida Roberts | Vida Roberts,Sun Fashion Editor

Hello fashion! We're talking cellular phones which, like shiny Prada backpacks, have become the obligatory accessory on the fashion circuit. You see models giggling into them as they curl up in corners between runway shows. You see stylists screeching orders. You see ladies who lunch call for their drivers.

At the New York designer collections, where everyone is so important and very busy going about the business of fashion, the little talkies are as ubiquitous as Chanel lipsticks, so much so that buyers and press packed into the big tent shows are exhorted to shut down their cellulars to clear the air for security reasons.

However, like any other new gadget of desire, cellulars are becoming accessible to the masses. Why, a $25 donation to the Ronald McDonald Children's Charities will get the donor a free Motorola flip phone courtesy of Car Tel Inc.

The trendies, to long-distance themselves from the Golden Arches population, are into call forward on phone trappings.

Brian McKinney, a custom menswear designer based in Los Angeles, premiered a fall line at last week's menswear apparel convention in Las Vegas that addresses the problem of where the stylish male can park a phone without spoiling the line of his designer duds.

"The idea came to me last year when I realized that a traditional suit has no comfortable place to keep our communications weapons," says the designer, who specializes in dressing such Hollywood celebrities as Michael Keaton, Christopher Reeves and Sinbad. "One of my clients was saying that he doesn't drive or fly with his jacket on but he always carries a phone. So I started designing a vest with appropriate pockets for a phone, pager and pocket computer." He's the first to market the concept but has no doubts it's an idea for our times.

Women, who don't want their cellulars rattling around with cosmetics at the bottom of a purse, can dress them up or down. For fall, Chanel had a little gilt and jeweled carrier for the woman who can't bear to be parted from her phone or her interlocking capital C's.

There's no new model for spring, but a design for next fall is in the works.

There are other choices. Saks Fifth Avenue has quilted shoulder strap models for spring in pearlized pink, pearl or black patent leather that can double as a case for glasses or camera.

The Neiman Marcus model comes in tailored black or brown faux crocodile. Sharper Image has a black leather unisex model that also has compartments for coins and cards.

How creative can phone accessories get? David Pinsky, public relations spokesman for Motorola, says cellulars can certainly get smaller, but he believes current sizes will remain a standard to ensure "finger-friendliness" and ease of operation.

As with any style, cellular chic can be taken over the top. Women's Wear Daily last week scolded supermodel Larissa Bondarenko for brandishing her phone during the first course and taking a call during the main course at a private dinner at the Carlyle Hotel. Naughty.

"You see a lot of rude and obnoxious people in the world. Now some of them have become rude and obnoxious people with cellular phones," says Mike Houghton, spokesman for the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association. We'll have to start watching our beeps and flips.

With about 25 million users in the United States and about 28,000 new customers signing on daily, cellulars are destined to become part of the daily kit and caboodle. The industry is already marketing designer colors.

Let's hope they consider winter and spring complexions. We wouldn't want our phone to clash with our lipstick.

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