Even in Hollywood, Ilene Pacun doesn't need an agent.
The co-designer (with husband Richard) for New York-based Richilene Industries is her own best sales rep--a fast-moving, smooth-talking human commercial with all the energy of a heat-seeking missile.
Showing her fall collection at Elizabeth Arden recently, she was a dynamo who, while waving about wispy concoctions of cut velvet and bugle beads, kept up a constant line of patter. She coaxed, cajoled, quipped, suggested. But most of all, she sold.
Witness the cries of admiration from her faithful fans, the Beverly Hills belles who forwent 8:30 a.m. aerobics to view her designs.
Richilene is a 15-year-old privately held company in whose dresses debs debut, playgirls party and maidens marry. This season, they'll do all that in looks that are decidedly sensuous. In Pacun's fall line (from $525 to $2,000), hips are hugged, legs are bared and almost everything shimmers. She shows cut velvet, silk, chiffon, caviar and bugle beads, satin taffeta, cut velvet imprinted with lame and metallics.
The bubble skirt (short and pouff-y) is back in Paris, Pacun says, and she has it too. She displays a bronze dress ("the perfect black-tie dress") with a bodice of French sequined lace and skirt of silk taffeta. Sleeves for fall are puffed up and out or long and skinny.
"Women are becoming more voluptuous, and I don't know why the era should be changing," she says. "But it seems to me that the more liberated we're getting, the more feminine we're getting. We're into fitness and health, so my sizes are smaller than they used to be. They're clothes that fit the fitness woman. They're pretty, they're sexy. They're . . . well . . . naughty.
"Maybe it's just me," she adds. "I've been walking every morning, and I feel much better about my body. I take it with me everywhere I go."
The quips go on. She picks up a mid-calf jewel-tone dress of French-cut velvet plaid on silk chiffon, with a see-through, kick-pleat hem.
"We're changing this a bit, adding a slip. My husband designed it and he loves legs.
"And this is the mistress dress," Pacun proudly announces, holding up a full-length dress of burgundy satin organza--the bodice embroidered and beaded with silk flowers and sequins.
"It's under $2,000 and has silk threads throughout. Richard designed it and I know he doesn't have a mistress, because if he did he couldn't produce this dress at this price."
Pacun says length for fall is up to the woman who wears her dresses.
"We're conservative. We won't ship anything above the knee because I like a woman to sit well. But beyond that, a woman must choose her own direction. I don't want a woman identified as being in a Richilene dress," she says. "I'd rather people say: 'Doesn't she look fabulous?' "