The fashion industry could be the place where AIDS has hit the hardest.
And, certainly, looking at the California Fashion Industry salute to Geoffrey Beene Friday night at the Century Plaza, no industry in this town could have produced a stronger response.
It was the event's second year--and organizers Michael Anketell, designer Carole Little, the May Co.'s Jim Watterson, Barbara Foley, Rudy Culebro, Dori Wasko, John Scott, Larry Chrysler, Michael Calderon and Gerry Bremer had lined up every major retailer in town.
And Beene. He showed up Friday during the day to rehearse the 35 models who had volunteered their services (a significant contribution from women who are paid by the hour for fittings and shows). In addition to the runway models, dozens of others--from agencies like Nina Blanchard, Cunningham, Mary Webb Davis, Flame, L.A. Models, Max, Prima and Wilhelmina West--volunteered their time.
Watterson, the fashion show chairman, said that, "Beene was amazing. He worked with the models, showing them how to walk, to stand, what accessories they wanted." Watterson also pointed out that the 900-person audience (the evening netted more than $200,000 for AIDS Project/L.A.) was up from 600 the first year.
Beene's extraordinary fashion history poured forth, dress by dress, from a revolving column set (designed by volunteer George Martin), with applause hitting every time a different "period" hit.
At ringside--Neiman-Marcus' John and Briget Martens with Katherine and Arpad Domyan, Robinson's Bob and Sue Mettler with Joan and Marco Weiss (who ran out before dinner and made the winning bid on, what else, the Robinson's $1,000 shopping spree); Morgan Fairchild (who could be the busiest political activist in town), the Cooper Building's Stanley Hirsh and designer Anne Cole. Linda Evans and Richard Cohen joined Allan Carr (who dubbed himself "the blond Buddha from Beverly Hills" and said that on his recent trip to Japan he and "RoboCop" were the hottest imports in the country).
Brenda Vaccaro, wearing the designs from her husband Guy Hector's Montana Avenue store, was asked if they were for sale. "Everything I have on for the rest of my life is for sale," she replied.
Nina Blanchard (she put together the models' committee) and hair stylist Yuki Takei were busy talking with Rosemarie Stack, columnist George Christie and Warnaco's Linda Wachner (her company is bringing out Beene's new sportswear lines); the very handsome Gregory Marshall, one of this year's APLA Friends in Deed Award winners; Architectural Digest's Paige Rense, who "brought the interior designers to meet the exterior designers" and was hosting Sally Serkin Lewis, Leo Dennis and Leonard Stanley.
Anketell summed up the feeling of the evening when he said: "Nobody should have to die of AIDS, but nobody should die without adequate care or emotional support or without dignity."
TURN IT UP--News junkies might have finally bought their way back to sanity, if indeed the annual KCRW subscription drive winds up tonight the way it seems to be going--and its hours and hours of daily National Public Radio news returns Tuesday. The Santa Monica Community College-based station is expected to raise "well over three-quarters of a million." That's the word from Ruth Hirschman, station manager, sounding a little hoarse Sunday morning, but nevertheless pointing to "extraordinary response, not just for our news, but for the unusual and eclectic programming." Kudos, to all the great volunteers.
HONORED--In other fashion-industry related news, Robert Mettler, the president and CEO of Robinson's, will be honored Feb. 23 at a gala fund-raiser for the National Jewish Center for Immunology and Respiratory Medicine. Proceeds from the $250-a-ticket event at the Century Plaza will help in the center's work in specialized medical treatment and research of respiratory, allergic and immunological diseases.