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Lacher / OUT & ABOUT

Glasses for When You Get All Dolled Up

November 27, 1998|IRENE LACHER

We blame Alain Mikli for our first fashion trauma. The French designer of eyewear makes frames so tasty and edgy that a decade ago, we were forced to plunk down a zillion dollars for a pair.

Which we proceeded to lose at the movies.

That's nothing compared to Kasi Lemmons' psychic sunglass scars.

"The first pair of designer glasses I ever bought were Miklis," the "Eve's Bayou" director told us during a recent lunch at Kate Capshaw's house. "I was in a sailboat that capsized in the Charles River in a sudden squall, and my Miklis went under."

That's the kind of thing a girl just can't forget. Oddly enough, neither is Barbie, or "ze Barbie," as Mikli calls the 40-year-old with the petrified but perky figure.

As Mattel's brood of Barbies enters dotage, the 43-year-old Mikli has been playing with dolls. OK, so he gets paid for it. Mattel's Paris operation recruited him to design a line of eye-wear to cheer up Barbie and her crazed followers (not to mention Mikli's crazed followers).

Ze Barbie joins a chic lineup of big names for whom Mikli designs--Jil Sander, Philippe Starck, Sonia Rykiel, Claude Montana and Frederic Fekkai. Ze Barbie line of 18 frames--for real people, not dolls--includes such distinctive touches as earpieces shaped like a doll's gams, or combs that keep a hairdo done when the glasses are perched on top of one's head. The new collection will be in department stores and optical shops early next year.

"I said, 'If I do it, I want to do it not for the dolls, but for real women,' " Mikli said in his suite at the Mondrian Hotel during a recent swing through Los Angeles. "Maybe it's a good chance to play with women, to dress them like children dress dolls."

Mikli dresses other creatures as well--babes, Oscar winners, musicians and cartoon characters. Hollywoodites who sport his frames include Tom Hanks, Kelly Preston, Susan Sarandon and Juliette Lewis, and he has designed glasses for such iconic eyewear wearers as Elton John and Bono. Oh, yes. And Cruella DeVil's spiritual sisters who looked to "101 Dalmatians" for fashion tips, frightening as that may seem.

Now Mikli is putting the je ne sais quoi into Kelly Lynch's look for a role she's planning, as a 1959 Air Force major who trained primates for space travel. And don't think for a moment that Lynch underestimates the punch of the right pair of shades.

"I tend to work from the outside in as an actress," Lynch says. "I need to get the mask in place, and then I feel more free to explore the places that I need to go, so the idea of glasses changes everything."

Just don't lose them.


Irene Lacher's Out & About column runs Monday, Wednesday and Friday on Page 2.

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