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By Design

Just Give Him the Space and He'll Put on a Show

May 02, 1996|WILLIAM KISSEL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The photographer's request seems simple enough: "Can you please walk across the water?"

In this case the water is a puddle inside a cavernous warehouse at Bergamot Station, a hodgepodge of vacant buildings and art galleries in Santa Monica. And spotlighting the pool is a stream of sunlight--the perfect backdrop for a portrait.

"No problem," Kevin Krier says, wading in carefully in his brown Gucci loafers. "I do it all the time."

You think he's kidding? As head of Kevin Krier & Associates, New York-based producers of fashion shows for everyone from Gucci, Victor Alfaro and Ellen Tracy to Tommy Hilfiger, Joseph Abboud and Hugo Boss, Krier routinely performs logistical miracles.

And it will seemingly take just that to turn this cluster of corrugated aluminum--roughly 30,000 square feet of space--into a kaleidoscope of color, light and fantasy clothing for tonight's 10th annual California Fashion Industries / Friends of AIDS Project Los Angeles gala honoring Todd Oldham.

The chain-linked Bergamot site is inarguably much less glamorous than the Hollywood Bowl, where honoree Calvin Klein staged his underwear extravaganza three years ago, or even Mann's Chinese Theatre, where Isaac Mizrahi was feted in 1994. But, Krier says, the setting suits his longtime pal's quirky style sensibility to a sequined T.

"It certainly presents challenges," Krier says. "But . . . it [also] allows us to create a complete Todd Oldham environment from scratch.

"Todd's known for his sense of whimsy," Krier adds. "His clothes have a certain joie de vivre. . . . And his shows are very supermodel kind of events. The clothes are always important. But these days it's also about the girls."

In this case "the girls" will be Naomi Campbell, Veronica Webb and Vendela, all of whom will walk gratis. Krier, who says he has reduced his fee, won't say who else might appear on the catwalk ("It's a surprise"), but actress Fran Drescher has a place at the head table and, Krier muses, "if Linda Evangelista flies into town I'll find something for her to wear too."

It could be something old or a fluffy fake Mongolian jacket that has yet to hit stores. "We're taking elements of all 14 shows Todd and I have done together and putting them into one," Krier says, puffing on the latest in a series of Marlboro reds. "It's 100 looks, 12 music selections and 40 or 45 lighting cues that have to be synchronized. So it's a big undertaking."

Krier has arrived from New York less than six days before show time to pull together an event in the planning for nine months. Here's a day-by-day glimpse at how it came together.

*

Saturday, April 27, 2:10 p.m.: Dressed in an iridescent Gucci suit and black silk polo, Krier checks out the space for the first time. A 6-inch layer of mud has already been cleared from the concrete floor but patches of water remain. Room dividers exist only as chalk lines. Overhead, a crew from Corporate Entertainment Services, which will carry out the design plan, rigs cables and lights.

Krier seems a little agitated that, with a ceiling full of holes, no contingency plan has been made in case of rain. He measures his stress level on a scale of 1 to 100 and by fluctuations in his weight: "Right now I'm a 20 and my weight is at 150. But by Wednesday I'll be a 90 and if my weight goes to 160 I know we're in real trouble."

*

Sunday, April 28, 1:21 p.m.: As the electricians continue to work, 8-foot panels of 19-cents-a-yard colored convention taffeta (plastic to the uninitiated) are being hung in a rainbow pattern, completely camouflaging the aluminum shell. Krier had wanted to drape the walls in Oldham's own fabrics but choked when he did the math. "Even the cheapest fabrics cost a couple of dollars a yard," Krier says.

Krier's stress level is stable at 20. Weight? "Might be up a pound or two but that could be due to the crab cakes from lunch."

*

Monday, April 29, 9 a.m.: In the Hunt Room of the Westwood Marquis hotel, Krier and his staff are surrounded by racks of clothing. "It's just amazing when you look at the room," he says a bit nervously. "All you see is color and beads and a whole lot of fluff."

For the next two hours, 150 or so local models audition-strut for 22 slots on the runway. Krier then begins the slow process of organizing and assigning outfits. While some will appear just as they did the first time down the runway, others will be tweaked--a different shoe, perhaps or fresh accessories.

The phone rings constantly. Elle MacPherson has dropped out, but fellow supermodels Irina, Brandi and (Calvin Klein poster boy) Marcus Schenkenberg are in. Preliminary fittings have been postponed to give the clothes crew one more prep day.

"My stress level this very second is about an 87," Krier says. "Oh, and I'm about five pounds heavier."

*

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