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When Buying Armani Becomes a Political Act

INSIDE OUT / NOTES FROM THE STYLE FRONT

July 09, 1993|DEBRA GENDEL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

As young girls and not-so-young girls in their sheer summer dresses emptied from the shops of Beverly Hills late Wednesday afternoon, another breed of woman, more purposefully dressed, descended on Emporio Armani. Not to shop but to celebrate the sweet taste of political victory.

"I'm strictly a Gap person," said one woman as she made her way into the starkly elegant store to attend a reception and $1,000-a-plate fund-raiser for EMILY's List, the Washington-based group that finances women candidates.

Invitations noted that "store discounts" would be offered (and sales came in at just under $14,000). "I have a wardrobe of more clothes than I need," said former City Councilwoman Joy Picus. "I have to trade in my suits for leisure clothes."

But the fiscal virtues of the event--fund-raising and adding tax money to California's coffers--were not lost on State Treasurer Kathleen Brown. "My mother taught me about value," she told the crowd. "And this is what my mother would call a twofer."

Armani-clad women stood shoulder to shoulder with women whose floral-print dresses predated the current romantic era, listening to Sen. Barbara Boxer exhort them to "double the score (of women office holders) in '94!"

"It's like a religion," one woman said happily afterward. "You need a fresh shot every few years."

*

Yummy: In an ad for Gale Hayman's new fragrance, a tousled brunette pauses between bites of a peach to gaze into the camera, her plump lips glistening with juice. "Delicious," reads the ad copy.

"I named it Delicious because that's what everyone who smelled it said," explained Hayman, whose Giorgio perfume (now owned by Avon) was the quintessential scent of the '80s.

But unless you're a Hayman gal pal, like Wendy Goldberg or Kelly Lange, you'll have to wait until next year to get the $190-an-ounce fragrance in L.A. Although distribution networks are in place in the East (Delicious was just launched at the Bloomingdale's chain, selling $67,000 in 11 days) and Europe, Hayman is still negotiating with West Coast department stores.

Until then, customers can order the fragrance through the Bloomingdale's catalogue, 1-800-777-4999.

Delicious, a floral fragrance, reflects what Hayman calls "the maturing of my sensibilities," and the Lalique-like leopard atop the bottle "is my symbol of a woman today--graceful, feminine and strong." And her trademark leopard skin? It's just a pale memory on the border of her press materials.

*

That Sinking Feeling: Hillary Rodham Clinton's $17 haircut, unveiled during her visit to Japan with the President this week, should satisfy those who found the First Lady's beauty needs extravagant.

As for her fashion tastes, she continues to unearth younger, lesser known, moderate-price designers who meet her low-key style. The latest is David R. Zyla (check Nordstrom and Bullock's). She packed several pastel evening outfits, purchased directly from him for the trip.

She's not the only one trimming the fat.

According to Women's Wear Daily, Esprit will lower the prices of its clothing from 30% to 60%, effective October. Jeans that cost $56 last year will be $38. A dress that was $88 will be $48.

*

Instant Chanel, Sort of: Speaking of discounts, they're all relative, aren't they? When we went looking for a headband to get us through that icky growing-our-hair-out stage, the absolute best one was marked \o7 down \f7 to just $160. (It was also marked Chanel.)

But it was just the right width and the grain on the black grosgrain ribbon was perfectly horizontal and the large, asymmetrically positioned white flower looked slightly absurd, more like a little hat, really. "We'll think about it," we told the saleswoman. Then we woke up, smelled the coffee and made our own silly headband as follows:

Take one plain, padded, black cotton chintz-covered headband ($2.99 at Ralphs). Add a fabric clip-on hair ornament (a pleated black satin bow, reduced from $12 to $6 at Bullock's, worked nicely). Break off most of the metal clip with nail clippers. Affix the remaining metal strip to the headband using several drops of fabric glue. Wear with aplomb. Ignore husband who says you look like your 4-year-old daughter.

*

To Beene or Not to Beene: There will come a day when the world will be divided into two kinds of dressers--the couture wearers (the haves) and the uniform wearers (the have-nots), pronounced Geoffrey Beene as he held court in the Four Seasons Hotel last week during a visit to L.A.

"Uniforms are supposed to frame us as individuals, but they negate our desire to be different. I hate the homogenization of anything, except milk, but the day will come. The economics of our times dictate it."

*

Around Town: Even in the tony examining rooms of Westside plastic surgeons, the doctor-patient relationship seems to be on the verge of a breakdown. "You kept me waiting 15 minutes!" bellowed a cellular-phone-carrying patient to his doctor last week. "I have a meeting with Hillary!". . .

Question: Which Beverly Hills cosmetics counter served as a research lab for a book-turned-TV-movie about kept women?

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