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FASHION / INSIDE OUT

The Best of Intentions Gone Bad

August 25, 1994|DEBRA GENDEL | TIMES FASHION EDITOR

The road to philanthropy is paved with good intentions.

Case in point: Iced-tea-chugging model Vendela this week offered a semi-nude photo of herself as cover art for an album of songs by women. But the cancer-research group benefiting from sales of "Women for Women" says the shot--in which Vendela's perky breasts are covered by her own hands--isn't their cup of tea.

"I'm still healthy and won't put off men from thinking about breast cancer," Vendela said in the New York Post, justifying her pin-up girl pose. "We didn't want to scare people off." Wrong answer, girlfriend!

"Vendela's picture and words do not in any way fit with the album's purpose," said Amy Langer, executive director of the National Alliance of Breast Cancer Organizations and a cancer survivor. Indeed, Mark Fine, senior vice president of Hammer & Lace Records, told the Associated Press that Vendela would not be on the cover.

Chin up, Vendela. The guys at Sports Illustrated still love ya.

*

Diamonds Are Forever: "Women make the best designers," said Marc Jacobs, chain-smoking and slurping coffee this week in the lobby of the Sunset Marquis Hotel. Male designers, he said, are better at creating spectacles.

The 30-year-old darling of the fashion world laughs at the sound of such Big Pronouncements. But they tumble out, prompted, of course, by the sorts of questions put to fashion designers. "Life is not a runway," he notes, sagely. Then, after a lengthy explanation of how clothes are just things , he observes: "That's what makes me young and modern."

Diamonds, too, are just things, which Jacobs scattered in unexpected shapes and places throughout his fall collection. He was in L.A. with his collection--called Scatter Diamonds--for a tea at Neiman Marcus on Tuesday. Why diamonds? "I was using the finest materials for my fall clothes, so why not use the most precious stones for the jewelry?" Why not, indeed.

*

Dressed to Convict: Just when we thought we'd seen her entire courtroom wardrobe, prosecutor Marcia Clark showed up for Monday's preliminary hearing in the O.J. Simpson case wearing The White Dress.

"What did it mean ?" pondered court-watchers. "Who designed it?" they asked. "What kind of shoes do you suppose she was wearing?" wondered one woman, frustrated by the infrequency of full-length shots by court cameras. "Black-and-white spectator pumps would have been perfect!" chirped another to no one in particular.

All we can say is that no one switches from a steady uniform of ill-fitting dark suits to a simple white sheath and pearl choker without a reason. While all parties concerned talked about blood, blood, blood, Clark appeared downright angelic, unbesmirched by the gruesomeness at hand. Then again, maybe it was the only clean thing in her closet.

*

The Winters of Our Discontent: In "Color Me Beautiful," Carole Jackson showed us why we might look washed out or overwhelmed in our favorite colors. You're a Spring, darling! Now, Jackson protege Darlene Mathis has applied seasonal color theory to women of color. Using clients from her Washington, D.C., salon, Mathis demonstrates the technique in "Women of Color: The Multicultural Guide to Fashion and Beauty" (One World/Ballantine Books).

Within us all, Mathis claims, lurks a color personality. Thus, a spring woman "is as capricious as nature, and often as delicate as her season. The colors of her palette--yellow, lime green and sea blue--are as light, bright and whimsical as her personality." If that fails to strike a chord, perhaps you're a winter, a "tall and imposing" gal--although you may be short--who's long on "climatic coloring of clear, primary colors." Think Oprah Winfrey, Lena Horne and Connie Chung.

Since we've always thought of ourself as a capricious drama queen, we wondered where we fit on the colorscape? Thankfully, Mathis says it's OK to have seasonal palettes rising or "adds," as she calls those colors not exactly in our prescribed palette. These colors are within us, she explains, and thus acceptable under certain circumstances. Thank you, Darlene.

*

And the Winner Is: The ballots had been tallied up by Price Waterhouse, the nominees notified. All was proceeding smoothly for California Mart's Oct. 9 awards ceremony honoring the California Designer of the Year and Rising Star. But hold the phone. Recount the ballots. Richard Tyler has been removed from Designer of the Year competition.

"We didn't actually decline the nomination," says Lisa Trafficante, Tyler's wife and business partner. But Tyler's busy schedule--"doing the Anne Klein show, our show and reintroducing the men's line"--left the company no time to stage the fashion show that's a mandatory part of the Mart's awards ceremony. "It's a lot."

One California designer isn't buying it. "It's not like he has to fly in Naomi and Kate," says Maggie Barry of the Van Buren design team. "He has the staff to stitch up more samples."

Sure, Tyler is L.A.'s most celebrated designer. But where's his hometown spirit? Which reminds us, isn't it high time we returned to Long Beach?

*

Around Town: Secretary of State Warren Christopher, motorcycle entourage in tow, made an impressive entrance this week shopping for clothes at Carroll & Co. on Rodeo Drive . . . the Anna Sui boutique on La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles is hosting a tea party and show of the designer's fall collection Sunday, Aug. 28 . . . DIFFA and Project Angel Food need donations of excess inventory from retailers and manufacturers to sell at "Divine Design," a benefit marketplace featuring clothing, jewelry and housewares priced at wholesale or less at the Pacific Design Center, Dec. 1-4. Call (213) 850-0877.

* Inside Out is published Thursdays.

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