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BEHIND THE SCENES / ORANGE COUNTY

Wrap & Opera

September 19, 1996

Chilly nights call for drastic measures. For some opera patrons, that means wearing fur, whether it's socially correct or not.

At a recent fashion show to stir up interest in Opera Pacific's Nov. 9 ball, a small gathering of die-hard fur fans went to see the season's latest evening wraps at the Sutton Place Hotel, Newport Beach.

In the past decade, the number of well-known designers--from Giorgio Armani to Zandra Rhodes--working with fur has grown from 42 to 144, according to the Fur Information Council of America.

This season's styles come as vests and mufflers, as trims for sweaters and suits and as mini-trenches, slickers and maxi-coats.

Close-to-the-body looks are inspired by ski and baseball jackets and anoraks. Colors range from whites and pale grays to tie-dyed reds and florescents. Flamboyant styles came in strobe-light patterns and pony-, leopard- and zebra-printed garments.

There are also fur caps and berets for men, women and children. (Men's fur sales account for 5% of the U.S. market, says the Fur Council.)

Models also strolled about in Neiman Marcus' fall evening gown collection, including some special-occasion designs created by Michael Casey from silk chiffon, coupe de velour and lace. Casey has designed gowns seen onstage by members of the San Francisco Ballet and patrons of the San Francisco Opera.

Opening night for Opera Pacific is Saturday when Puccini's "Turandot" will be staged.

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