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INSIDE OUT / NOTES FROM THE STYLE FRONT

Royally Curious at Conde Nast

January 28, 1994|DEBRA GENDEL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The publishing world is abuzz this week over the news that 35-year-old James Truman--editor of Details magazine--will replace the venerable Alexander Liberman, 81, as editorial director at Conde Nast Publications Inc.

Truman's rapid ascent, after only six years at the company, has prompted speculation about his ability to oversee the company's 13 magazines, including such style bibles as Vogue, Vanity Fair, Allure and GQ. But the young editor's relative inexperience is just one of the strikes against him, says the New York press. The other is his birthplace.

"Brit Takeover Riles Conde Nast Yanks" read the headline on a story in Thursday's New York Post. Company Chairman S.I. Newhouse "is obsessed with the English," a Conde Nast source told the Post, "believing their accent makes them morally and intellectually superior. It's cultural insecurity."

His fans say Truman's charming personality and his dazzling success at Details ensure a successful reign.

"I expect to have little to do with some magazines, which are working just fine," Truman told Newsday. "Others, perhaps I will have more of a hand in." Which those will be, he's not saying.

Global Cooling: Comedian Jerry Seinfeld picked up his Golden Globe award Saturday night and, by way of thanks, noted: "There's a lot of cleavage in this room!" Leave it to a guy to see cleavage where there is none. The earthquake must have chastened this glitzy crowd because decollete was conspicuously absent, making us wonder if the Globes--which are said to portend Oscar's victors--may not also portend Oscar's fashions? If so, look for lots of chaste, white pantsuits (Michelle Pfeiffer, Anjelica Huston, Kate Capshaw); chaste, minimalist slip dresses (Winona Ryder, Holly Hunter); chaste, high-necked Asian-inspired designs (Laura Dern, Faye Dunaway, Anjelica Huston--scoring in two categories), and anything silver (Tia Carrera, Joan Chen). As for the men, except for Al Pacino's trademark floppy bow, collarless tuxedo shirts sans tie is the wave of the future (Liam Neeson and, uh, Liam Neeson and Liam Neeson. Did we say Liam Neeson?).

Out of This World: What's the single highest praise heard at any fashion show in Los Angeles? They didn't even look like L.A. models! Well, the food didn't even taste like L.A. food (it was from Patina), and the clothes didn't even look like L.A. clothes (they were from Milan), so, of course, the Armani show at the Rodeo Drive boutique this week was a smashing success--and not, fortunately, in any literal sense. Even though last week's quake put the Emporio Armani restaurant temporarily out of commission, "we just thought the show should go on," a spokeswoman said. Keeping in that spirit were about 250 of Armani's best customers, among them Lily Zanuck, Laura Dern, Maria Shriver, Linda Bruckheimer and Candy Spelling--a group so beautiful, they didn't even look like L.A. women.

Northern Exposure: The average American man will get his first taste of the much-ballyhooed British tailoring trend--you know, three-button jackets, mixed patterns, snugger fit, vests--by way of the 1994 Winter Olympics next month. "The men were squeamish till they saw how great the clothes looked on," said L.A.-based Richard Valenza, whose Ward Rhobe Management Corp. put together wardrobes for the CBS announcers hosting the event. "The vests, especially, hide a multitude of sins."

At the last Winter Games, Valenza introduced the viewing public to earth tones and designer Joseph Abboud. But this time, his mission was to find a menswear manufacturer who had interpreted the cutting-edge tailored look in a palatable way. Faconnable, a French line available exclusively at Nordstrom stores nationwide, was the winner. "I can imagine viewers in Iowa saying, 'Who the hell put these people together?' " said Valenza, referring to the pattern mix.

The female announcers--Paula Zahn, Andrea Joyce and Tracy Wilson--will dress in Nordstrom's in-house line, Classiques Entier. In exchange, the company will get on-screen credits. The only drawback to what seems like a beautiful relationship is that the fall/winter clothing will be unavailable to shoppers. When the Games begin Feb. 12, the stores will be full of spring clothes.

Scoop: Speaking of the Winter Olympics, we were pleased to hear that our favorite late-night guy and "Cabin Boy" scene stealer, DA-VID LETTERMAN, will be dispatching a correspondent to Lillehammer. No, not little Regis Philbin! Moms Letterman, the long-suffering, flat-voweled gal whom Dave so clearly adores, will serve as the show's eyes and ears on Norway.

Inside Out is published Fridays.

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