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INSIDE OUT / NOTES FROM THE STYLE FRONT

At $710, We Could Only Look

July 16, 1993|DEBRA GENDEL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

What better way to celebrate Bastille Day than by rolling out of bed and into Beverly Hills for a fashion show at Chanel? Let them drink cappuccino!

Inside the double glass doors Wednesday morning, our dab of Coco from a stash of free samples was shown up for the measly gesture it was, compared to the beautiful Chanel bags, earrings, jackets, flats, pumps, skirts and flowers worn by the invitation-only crowd. But c'est la vie . . . We're only too happy for the chance to appropriate a teensy bit of Chanel style at a price we can afford.

Take Chanel's Big White Shirt for fall, which--at $710--we frankly cannot.

It was reinvented each time it came down the Rodeo Drive store's mirror-lined staircase: buttoned, unbuttoned, dressed up with a knotted velvet-ribbon tie, anchored with a charm belt, worn over leggings, beneath a jacket with tails flying or tucked into a sumptuous black velvet evening skirt.

It's a classic look for fall and easier to copy than a Chanel jacket. American Rag carries a reasonable facsimile by Frenchman Serge Azar for $79. You won't fool anyone, but during these bad times, who wants to?

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Down, Down, Downsizing: Three problems caused New York-based designer Michael Kors to file a Chapter 11 petition in bankruptcy court, according to company treasurer John Orchulli: "lower sales volume, lower profit margins and an inability to decrease overhead accordingly."

It's an all-too-familiar refrain. This week saw sequin king Bob Mackie containing costs by moving from his longtime Melrose Avenue location into smaller digs on Fairfax, and over at the Beverly Center, Conran's Habitat is closing its doors.

Taking the place of all those wicker club chairs and pale wood dressers starting Nov. 1 is menswear--50,000 square feet of it in a free-standing Bullock's Men's Store. Here, a shopper can see the full collections of Giorgio Armani, Hugo Boss and Calvin Klein, as well as items by Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan, Joseph Abboud, Versace and Moschino.

A sign of the times: The store will also have a men's cosmetics section stuffed full of fragrances and skin treatments. Sounds like nirvana for the guy who shamelessly primped in the rear-view mirror of his BMW next to us one morning for the length of an entire signal change. You're beautiful, sweetheart.

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Fit to Print: DKNY ads in August issues of Vanity Fair, Vogue and Rolling Stone feature the offspring of famous people, a contingent that excited Calvin Klein during his arduous search for the "right" models to pound the airport-size runway at the recent Hollywood Bowl extravaganza/AIDS fund-raiser. And who constitutes this second generation? Zoe Cassavetes, Donovan (Dovan) Leitch and sister Ione Sky, and Sofia Coppola and Roman Coppola are featured in the ads shot by Peter Lindbergh.

"These kids all have such great personal style. They represent what it's all about today, clothes from the street," says Patti Cohen, vice president of advertising and publicity at Donna Karan. "It's not like Donna sitting up in her office saying 'Today I feel like doing a pouf.' " . . .

The July 19-26 issue of W, on the stands now, is the last to be published as a broadsheet. Starting with the August issue, the glossy sister of Women's Wear Daily switches to tabloid-size perfect-bound. "Basically, it means now you can read it on the Stairmaster," quips L.A.-based staff writer Merle Ginsberg.

*

Rose Bowl Alternative: Tonight marks the opening of Villiers and Vanderpump, a high-class flea market at the corner of Third Street and Robertson Boulevard featuring 40 antique vendors.

We were one of the select few (12,000) to be invited to opening night festivities. Douglas Villiers, who pioneered antique markets in L.A. with Beverly Boulevard's Antiquarius 10 years ago, says his and partner Lisa Vanderpump's new venture will showcase everything from decorative slipcovers to serious $5,000 to $10,000 pieces.

"The attraction of the place is that lots of dealers don't want the overhead and the start-up costs of having their own stores."

In contrast to East Coast and European antique lovers, the L.A. shopper has a taste for the "funky, distressed and eclectic," Villiers observes.

"The big spendthrift days of the '80s are over. Here, you can browse; you can haggle," he says. "The rich need a place to bargain hunt too."

*

Show Time, the Sequel: "A lot of companies talk about rebuilding L.A.," said Magic Johnson, "but Swatch is one of the few that's actually come here and done something." That something is the donation of part of the profits from the new Magic Johnson Swatch Stop-watch ($50) to the former basketball star's foundation for funding HIV/AIDS programs and inner-city organizations across the country.

The very Swatchy neon-green-and-black watch, which ticks off seconds with both hands moving counter-clockwise, will be on sale Saturday only at the Broadway in the Glendale Galleria. In September it will available nationwide.

After the Swatch/Johnson press conference Wednesday at the Challengers Boys & Girls Club at Vermont Avenue and 52nd Street, Johnson climbed into his black Range Rover and prepared for his next stop. "Gotta keep working," he said.

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