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INSIDE OUT / NOTES FROM THE STYLE FRONT

That Revolving Thrift-Store Door

March 19, 1993|DEBRA GENDEL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

"Ihad a period in 1981 when I was Florence Henderson. Then, I wanted to look like Sissy in 'Family Affair.' " Now, says Ann Magnuson, "I'm into the 1800s . . . heart-beating romanticism, filmy empire-waist dresses, reading Lord Byron."

But for her role in "You Could Be Home Now," a one-woman show that opened Thursday night in West Hollywood, Magnuson, who played a fashion victim magazine editor on the TV series "Anything but Love," has become a fashion minimalist.

"Everything is simply implied" by adding a single piece of clothing--some of it from her own "insane collection of costumes"--to a black leotard. To suggest a biker chick, Magnuson dons a denim vest she wore as Squeaky Fromme in "Manson," the musical.

To streamline her own closets, Magnuson says she sent 22 ("or was it 11?") bags of clothing back to the Salvation Army. Still, years spent as a "total thrift-store maven" have left their mark.

"Yesterday, I went shopping at Agnes B and I saw all these suit jackets made of polyester. Why would I spend $100 for polyester? I remember putting together great outfits for under $20."

Of course, if you're Ann Magnuson, you can just pick up the phone and ask a designer pal like Todd Oldham to lend you something. Or, if you're writing a pilot for Fox about a cable shopping channel, you might just order over the phone. Didn't we see one of those floaty, 1820s-style gowns on "Spring Fling" the other night?

And Barry Diller Shall Lead Them: Speaking of cable, those snobs who complain that there's nothing to buy on QVC or the Home Shopping Club except ill-fitting rayon cocktail dresses in "jade green, royal purple, and hot hot pink," might be in for a more tasteful future.

Women's Wear Daily reports that Diane Keaton and "former art and photography dealer" Daniel Wolf have joined forces to develop a cable network that would feature fashion, food, architecture and entertainment. Edie Lock, who WWD reports is serving as a programming consultant for Fashion Television Associates, said the company's goal is to have something on the air by fall, 1994. "But nothing is firm yet."

Apparently not. "They've all gone to New York," said one stylist, left behind in a Santa Monica office the company had been renting.

Meanwhile, at Wolf's New York office, an assistant apologetically demurred. "I really can't talk about it. I hate to sound vague. . . . But I can communicate your interest to Mr. Wolf."

We just hope the FTA network offers a TV cabinet like the one Keaton has in her Frank Lloyd Wright house. Item No. 947, whimsical, custom-built TV cabinet. Regularly priced at $10,000, but on special today for $7,500.

Lipstick Wars: Have our finely honed urban survival skills made us into consumers without consciences? Perhaps.

But how would you react to an ad for half-price M.A.C. cosmetics direct from the warehouse!!! Probably the same as the rest of us hell-bent-for-cosmetics types who flooded the 800 number listed in a recent L.A. Weekly ad for the Cosmetics Liquidators Club. Dozens of automatic redials later, we placed our order--three tubes of Twiggy and a Plum lip liner.

Then we did the right thing and called M.A.C. at its Toronto headquarters. They already knew about the unauthorized discount ad.

"Did you call the number?" asked company co-founder Frank Angelo, who sounded like a man betrayed.

"Yes," we stammered.

"Did you order anything?"

"No," we said, probably a little too quickly. He pleaded: "Tell people in L.A. that we would never run an ugly ad like that."

Of course, fans of the line--and that includes nearly every makeup artist and 99% of all the groovy women in town--know M.A.C. does not advertise. Its huge success can be attributed strictly to word of matte mouth.

"Being down there in Star Land, you guys are probably used to seeing people lie and cheat . . .," Angelo said, "but this has really upset and demoralized everyone here. It makes it sound like we're selling stuff at Nordstrom for one price and selling somewhere else for a different price." Thursday, Angelo read an attorney-approved statement saying "there is absolutely no association between M.A.C. and the recent unauthorized advertisement using our official logo by Cosmetic Liquidators Club. M.A.C. is only available at select Nordstrom stores, M.A.C in Santa Monica, M.A.C. at the Beverly Center and at select salons.

Last try, the 800 number was still busy.

Offer This Lady a Tiparillo: In the tradition of women like Virginia Woolf, Catherine the Great, Greta Garbo and Grace Kelly, members of the George Sand Society will convene over cigars and cognac Tuesday night at Remi restaurant in Santa Monica. "It's just a group to make women feel more comfortable enjoying something that is incredibly relaxing," says founder Julie Ross. She's partial to Donna Karan and Monte Cristo Number 2's ("moist, Cuban, hand-rolled and $160 for a box of 12 at the airport in Paris"). But besides Ross, are there any living women who can claim to be aficionados of "the rope"?

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