Get ready for a royal visit early next year. Listen hears that Andrew and Sarah, the Duke and Duchess of York, are coming to town. Bullocks Wilshire's new president, Terry Lundgren, says the royal couple will be honored during the store's weeklong promotion of fashion, accessories and home furnishings from the United Kingdom. They're calling the event "UK-LA," which translates to lots of parties, fashion shows and in-store appearances at all the B-W store branches. "We're planning for the prince and duchess to visit Los Angeles and Palm Desert stores at least, " Lundgren says. He adds that the dates have not been set, but he's planning on late February or early March.
It seems Robinson's had first dibs on the event, proposed by the British government. "But," says Robinson's senior vice president of sales promotions, Wendell Ensey, "We were told they would opt for a different store that carries more British resources."
This sets to rest one of the most juicy if least accurate rumors roaming free in Milan this week, which has all involved in setting up the royal visit feeling miffed, muffed and mystified by refusals to host a fashion show in the royal couple's honor. Lundgren, who says he's off to London to confer with government officials overseeing the promotion, adds: "The royal fashion show is probably part our program."
Audrey Hepburn looked exquisite the other day when we spotted her backstage after a show of clothes by Marina Spadafora, Hepburn's Los Angeles-based designing daughter-in-law. The actress said she was in Milan "to cheer Marina on, because she has such enormous talent." Hepburn, who's known for her French designer wardrobe, must really believe it because she was wearing one of her daughter-in-law's outfits. It was a dark-brown sweater and matching knit pants. That's one sure way to get around the miniskirt issue.
Parties Are Patriotic
"Only the Americans and the Italians go to parties nowadays. But not the English." So said British designer David Fielden, who came to Milan seeking retail buyers for his flouncy evening dresses, which he says aren't doing too well back home. Fielden wore bicycle pants and a shirt to show his clothes at an adjunct exhibit close to the main fair. One Fielden fan we know of is Joan Collins, who wore one of the designer's dresses to the recent party in Bel-Air to launch Elizabeth Taylor's Passion perfume.
Good Party Is Hard to Find
New York designer Norma Kamali gave what was billed as a cocktail party at 10 p.m. the other night in a Milan park so obscure that Listen's taxi driver couldn't even find it. He stopped at a pizzeria and telephoned his office for directions. When we arrived, we found Kamali looking like a very tired Russian princess, in a full-skirted, short, red taffeta coatdress with black shawl collar and a wide black belt. The designer said she was celebrating her new arrangement with Zamasport, the Italian firm that will produce and distribute her designs in Europe and Australia. Zamasport also backs Milan's Romeo Gigli and Costume National. Kamali said Bloomingdale's in New York is manufacturing a swimwear line under her label, and that she's looking for a shop location in Los Angeles "because it's the perfect place for a Kamali kind of store."
L.A.'s the Place
Giorgio Armani is also looking for a Los Angeles location on which to open an Emporio Armani store. But the perfectionist designer has been looking for at least a year. Armani's right-hand woman, Gabriella Forte, confided in Milan that she had just come back from yet another location-scouting trip to Los Angeles and still hasn't settled on the right spot. "L.A. is a tough nut to crack as far as retail stores go," Forte said.
Another Armani teammate, Lee Radziwill, sat next to Listen at the designer's Tuesday night show. Radziwill was impeccable in a black, quilted-velvet, short Armani evening suit with the hemline barely reaching the top of her knee.