Diary Dearest New York, New York, that Fashion Town

The Faxes are up and the Diet is Down

August 15, 1996|By Vida Roberts | Vida Roberts,Sun Fashion Editor

A perfect morning. Palm Sunday. Too early for New York hustle. Bells from the power houses of worship along Fifth Avenue ring congregants out to the sidewalk. Families, socialites, devout shop clerks carry palm fronds from the services.

Guilt. I pass church portals and head to Tiffany's, that shrine of taste and luxury.

Palm fronds there, too. Tropical arrangements burst from coconuts set on gleaming jewelry cases. It's a brunch to introduce a collection of South Sea pearls to the fashion press. Exquisite. Smooth waiters pass tidbits, juices and Bloody Marys. Marvelous aromas waft from the chafing dishes; discreet island music fills the air. Models wearing sarongs, pearl treasures and parrots sway to tropical sounds. It's an hourlong island of tranquillity in the crazed days of the New York fall designer collections. I'm at the halfway mark, covering the shows for The Sun, trying to translate the fashion madness here for sane readers. How to explain the importance of wearing fish-net stockings over lime green tights?

Arrive the Monday before, March 25. Check bags with the bell captain, dot on some makeup and head for the Norma Kamali showroom. Models in high-carat jewel colored shearlings and spacesuit knits. Norma, who has forbidden her staff the wearing of black, is in skintight red python leather. A treat for the eye which is already deadened by black-clad Manhattan.

Stop for coffee with photographer Chris Robbins to synchronize our schedules. We'll be nearly symbiotic in a few days.

Back to hotel to check in. Piles of faxes, invitations, schedule changes, voice mail from designer minions. Confusion and chaos. At the 11th hour, Ralph Lauren and Donna Karan, two of the headliners, pulled out of the show tents in favor of their own showrooms, throwing the schedule out of kilter. Invitations are in mail limbo.

RSVPs required for seating. "Please call back for seating." "We will call you with seating." "Your invitation and seating will be sent to your hotel." "An invitation was mailed to The Sun yesterday." That's there, I'm here.

No time to sit by the phone, leaving the prospect of shuffling calls and callbacks on the run. Once the shows are in full swing, hotel time is minimal.

Back out on the street. Check in at the press center at Bryant Park which is set up by 7th on Sixth, the organization that handles the logistics of moving most of the season's shows through two large temporary tents raised on the park grounds.

Pick up press credentials. These certify that I'm accredited working press, but don't guarantee entry to any show. Designers can love you one season and bar you the next. Run into other editors. Gossip. "Are you going to Marc Jacobs?" translates into "Have you been invited?"

Fashion sponsors are ready even if designers are not. Show week percs are fodder for industry hangers-on and provincial weeklies. Evian stocks refrigerator cases of bottled water at all show entrances. American Express offers chocolate gold cards. GM will provide a car and driver. Clairol will turn you into a redhead or fluff your bangs.

Pantone color experts serve tea and cookies. Harper's Bazaar and Moet & Chandon pour wine, cognac and champagne. Vogue dresses pretty Voguettes to serve Starbucks espresso and cafe latte at the big tent entrance.

Reebok will spa and massage you. Rockport will rub your feet. Timex will keep show stats.

Samsung has installed banks of microwave ovens for popping corn in the tents.

By end of the week fashionables won't bother even trying to be discreet about picking hulls out of their teeth. That popcorn smell with topnotes of Boucheron is forever locked in memory.

Back to the hotel. It's 6 p.m. More faxes, invitations, phone.

Time to file a story for the paper. How to explain bad-taste chic vs. modern minimalism?

Change shoes. Change jacket. Thank the fashion gods that all-black is always appropriate.

8 p.m. and time for an Oscar night party thrown by the Diamond Information Center and In Style magazine. It's in the penthouse of the too-too trendy Royalton with Blade Runner future-furniture decor by Phillipe Stark. Spiked metal chairs are not inviting. Hoping to pick up juicy fashion flashes. Big screens, big noise, big crush. The Oscars are incidental. It's a late night, but thankful for a slow first day.

Morning. Get the papers. Call the paper. No invitation in hand for Yohji Yamamoto show. Publicist Benny Liu, always charming, assures me I'm on the list and he will seat me at the door. The venue is the Lexington Armory and it is besieged by an army of worshipful groupies. Elbow through a mob of young Yohji acolytes wearing cherished pieces by the master. Where these youngsters get the allowance for four-figure costumes is a mystery. Find Benny; find seat.

A heavenly show. Pure, abstract. Models floating across the square surrounded by boxing ring bleachers. Layers, felt, knits. Hair knotted to the crown in tight coxcombs. I believe in fashion.

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