Ponder the dilemma: You've just spent a week's salary on a dress to wear on New Year's Eve, but you still haven't found shoes to match. And time is running out.
One solution to consider is custom hand beading by Sheri Galper. First you purchase a pair of plain satin dress shoes at Neiman-Marcus. Next you pick the color bead you desire, choose from an array of designs (leaves, flowers, swirls), and decide where on the shoe you want the decoration to be placed.
"Most of the beaded dresses are made with the exact same beads as I use," points out Galper, who has taught beading techniques locally, starting with beaded flower arrangements, for 16 years. For shoes, she incorporates only the finest Czechoslovakian beads and Austrian crystals, just like designers Bob Mackie and Nolan Miller, she says.
Prices vary according to how much satin you want encrusted. For the side of the shoe, toe or heel only, the cost is $112 per pair (plus the cost of the shoe). For the side and toe, or toe and heel, it's $187. For the entire shoe, $300. Galper promises delivery within 10 days of purchase.
The label on an expensive line of fashionable handbags has caused some undue confusion. It reads: "Sharif."
"I was doing a personal appearance in New York and two very old ladies, definitely not the Sharif customer, rushed over," recalled handbag designer Sharif el Fouly.
"They kept hugging and kissing me, and one of the ladies started to cry," he explained. "She had a little camera and handed to her friend and asked me to pose with her. I had no heart to ask her, but something didn't feel right. Finally she told me she never cried as much as when she saw 'Dr. Zhivago.' "
Confusion with the other Sharif--Omar--"always, always happens," said El Fouly. Granted, there is a slight resemblance. (Both men are Egyptian and have dark mustaches.) Omar Sharif was born in Cairo and raised in Alexandria and "that's exactly what happened to me," El Fouly said.
El Fouly left Egypt when his family's leather business was nationalized in 1969, then moved to New York and worked at the United Nations Club, where he was a children's soccer coach.
Eventually his love of leather won out, and he began designing handbags, some of which are now tucked under the arms of Linda Evans, Joan Collins and Whitney Houston.
Prices start at $300, but the most important new Sharif bag, a snake clutch that the designer maintains is the most suitable shape to wear with short skirts, sells for $490. Specializing in offbeat use of skins, his newest is an iridescent snake satchel with an ornate hardware buckle selling for $600. The Sharif line is at Neiman-Marcus.
Italophiles take note: An exhibit of "Italian Fashion Design 1945-1980" is on view through Dec. 31 at the Pacific Design Center.
Represented are the houses of Emilio Schuberth, who designed for Jackie Kennedy in the '50s, the Fontana sisters, Pino Lancetti, Walter Albini, Valentino, Luciano Soprani, Gianfranco Ferre, Krizia and Italy's reigning superstar, Giorgio Armani.
Granted, the dress selection is meager. "We were promised 10 dresses, but received five and one was stained, so we couldn't show it," said Giovanna Zamboni-Paulis of the Italian Cultural Institute.
Nevertheless, students of fashion should rejoice in the plethora of original sketches, 200 in all. They are on loan from the Universita di Parma, which owns the country's most important fashion archives.