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Hail, Fergie, Size 12

October 14, 1987|BETTIJANE LEVINE | (from London)

Sarah, the red-haired Duchess of York and wife of Prince Andrew, Duke of York, is still an Italian Size 42, which translates to an American Size 12. That's the scoop from retailer Roberto Devorik of Regine, the string of Italian designer shops in London with a branch in Los Angeles. Devorik says the duchess buys clothes "straight off the rack," although her mother, Susan Barrantes, often has clothes custom-made. One top designer here, when questioned about the popularity of Fergie, says it's not just because she's so nice. It's also because she has "healthy hips, and English women can relate to that."

Politics Under Wraps

London designer Katherine Hamnett must have lost her nerve at the last minute. Listen saw her backstage just before her spring show, where she showed us a T-shirt with "Sanction South Africa" written on it. But on the runway, when models displayed her 1960s' tie-dye looks, the model wearing the "Sanction" shirt never unbuttoned the jacket that covered it. Hamnett says she's into short skirts and psychedelic looks because "fashion goes in 20-year cycles, and it's time for iconoclasm again."

Victory at Sea

A gamble just paid off for Peter Bertelsen, the Danish oil investor who dabbles in English fashion. London designer John Galliano, who has been financially backed by Bertelsen for one year, won the Designer of the Year Award this week, presented by the British Fashion Council. Bertelsen was wearing a wide green tie with bright sailboats painted on it when asked if anything else he's done is as risky as the fashion game. "Sure, there's something riskier," answered Bertelsen, who talks like Mike Todd and looks like Richard Burton. "I once invested in a venture to find treasure supposedly lost at sea. That was more of a gamble than fashion."

Punks Beaten Back

As for London street fashion, punks have totally receded into the woodwork and been replaced by dressed-up young men who often fancy Edwardian-style clothes and young women who stride purposefully in elegant pumps, black tights, thigh-high minis and jackets shorter than their skirts. Even Kensington market, once a seedy haven of inexpensive and recycled clothes, has taken on a certain musty elegance. One of the busiest shops in the market purveys genuine Harris tweeds and other spiffy men's clothes from past eras, including paisley smoking jackets, silk neck scarfs and cravats.

Lacroix's Grand Design

When does Paris' Christian Lacroix find time to design? First we spotted the couturier in Milan--shopping for fabrics, he said. Now we find he's being feted in London at the Jockey Club. Right after he presents his first ready-to-wear collection under his own label in Paris next week, he'll fly to New York and visit the Bergdorf Goodman store and then on to Beverly Hills, where Saks Fifth Avenue will be his host. He's so high profile that retailers are holding their breath, hoping he'll produce a spring collection that lives up its advance billing.

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