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INSIDE OUT / NOTES FROM THE STYLE FRONT

Are We Not Babes in Shoes?

January 14, 1994|DEBRA GENDEL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

There once was a woman in MaWho dressed her young darling in fine prints and cotton / When all of a sudden / It flashed in her head / To dress like her modish toddler instead .

The ad copy for a pair of $235 adult baby shoes by Peter Fox might sound nauseating to some ears. But we have a weakness for girlish shoes with flat rubber soles and wide toes.

It's a good thing. Patent leather Mary Janes, T-straps, saddle shoes and pared-down oxfords are rampant in designers' collections this spring. And while Westside matrons have long understood the singular allure of white Keds and anklets, this season's immature footwear--paired with this season's thigh-grazing baby-doll dresses--is considerably more provocative.

Think knee socks and lollipop-licking.

"I would imagine Freud would have a good time with this," New York shoe designer Kenneth Cole said with a laugh. His spring collection features at least two versions of Mary Janes. "Maybe there's this subliminal side in all us that wants to re-experience that time of naive innocence."

Then again, maybe it's not so subliminal. The Storybook Heirlooms catalogue offers at least a dozen pairs of its toddler party shoes--in adult sizes. "Teardrop cutout shoes with feminine bows" go all the way up to size 10. I feel pretty, oh so pretty . . . .

Just Say Yes: In recent years, the fashion world has channeled much of its fund-raising muscle in the direction of AIDS charities. On Feb. 22, though, Richard Tyler (Anne Klein), Anna Wintour (Vogue) and Neiman Marcus will host a $100-a-ticket party at Culver City's Smash Box photo studio to raise money for D.A.R.E.--Drug Abuse Resistance Education. Driving the message home will be a short film directed by actor Johnny Depp. (It was Depp's Viper club, you'll recall, where actor River Phoenix collapsed and died of a drug overdose.)

"The point of the film," says Elizabeth Saltzman, Vogue contributing editor and the film's producer, "is that you have a choice in life. Don't choose drugs." The point of the event, besides raising money for a good cause, of course, is to continue to align Anne Klein with the youthful spirit Richard Tyler has brought the company in spades since signing on last year. For tickets, call (213) 965-3651.

Fit to Be Tied: June Cleaver's aprons were about as interesting as a quilted toaster cover. But when Annie Potts' character in the CBS sitcom "Love and War" puts one on, it looks downright sexy. "I start with the apron and build an outfit around it," explains Emmy Award-winning costume designer Bill Hargate. "It's kind of demented but it seems to work."

Elvis, cowboys, poppies and kitchen utensils decorate a few of the 50 aprons in Potts' apron wardrobe, which Hargate buys around town at Mayfair market, Repeat Performance and Cooks Library. To turn up the heat in your kitchen, the designer suggests wearing an apron over dark leggings and--if it has a top--wear it as you would a T-shirt or blouse.

"I kind of like the apron underneath a coat or sweater, it's a little sexier," Hargate says. OK, as long as we don't have to cook.

Forty Lashes: Paula Pennypacker calls herself the Queen of Mascara. The Toledo, Ohio, woman--a fair-skinned redhead--has tried every shade of soft brown (and blue) mascara she could get her hands on for the last 20 years. "To go through life with black eyelashes and red eyebrows is god-awful," she says.

So Pennypacker came up with her own brand, which she sells through the mail for $9.50 a tube. The trick was finding a formula that didn't turn dark as it dried. Now she has. "This stuff would have done wonders for my self-esteem when I was a teen-ager," Pennypacker says with a sigh.

For a woman who spent her formative years eyelashless, Pennypacker seems to have done quite well. She was a mayoral candidate last year and is a political commentator at her local television station. For information, call (800) 831-8240.

And the Next Plane to Paris Is . . . ?: The much-heralded satellite broadcast of the Paris couture shows scheduled this weekend at UCLA's Royce Hall was canceled Wednesday. "The biggest problem was that nobody out here even knew about the shows," said Marilyn Jenet, hired by Paris Fashion Showcase to find an L.A. site for the shows.

The other problem was the price. Tickets for the shows were hundreds of dollars each. And at that price, viewers would not have seen the shows of the top houses--Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Cardin. Organizers say they'll try the idea again in July.

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