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Zooming In on Rodeo Queens

May 01, 2000|BOOTH MOORE

Lisa Eisner writes in the forward to her new photography book that her obsession with rodeo queens--who ride, rope and look beautiful--began at age 10, when she decorated her bike and joined a rodeo parade in Cheyenne, Wyo.

"I'll never forget that vision," she writes in "Rodeo Girl" (Greybull Press) "I looked at them high up on their big powerful horses. They were like superheroes with their gold sequined shirts reflecting on their green hats and their tiaras shooting light everywhere. They were like fireworks, a laser show, a disco ball."

After that day, she shed her tomboy image and prepared for a life of full femininity. She writes, "I was ready for a bra and a tiara."

At a blue margarita-soaked book party the other night at the Ralph Lauren store in Beverly Hills, Eisner lit up the room in vintage Western wear by Nudie: an orange glitter jumpsuit with turquoise beads and rhinestone belt.

"I am fascinated by the girliness of rodeo queens in a very masculine world," she said, in between cheek kisses with Tracey Ross and Peggy Moffitt of Rudi Gernreich topless swimsuit fame.

Eisner, sister-in-law of Disney exec Michael, got her start in fashion as a design assistant for Ralph Lauren. She has been an editor at Vogue and Mademoiselle and is currently a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. As a photojournalist, she began documenting the lives of teen rodeo queens in 1994 and will release a film documentary on the subject later this year.

The glamour quotient was high at the party (Rose McGowan, Gina Gershon and Lisa Marie Burton were there), but they had nothing on the rodeo queens touring with Eisner to promote the book. Miss Rodeo America Brandy DeJongh, 22, of Leona Valley, Calif., spent most of the night posing for photos with guests.

"It is made of alexandrites and gold," she said, pointing a manicured finger at the tiara on her cowboy hat. (It is detachable, so she can wear it on any hat.) "Alexandrites are only mined in Russia."

Her boots are butter-colored ostrich skin and her wool gabardine bolero and dress are emblazoned with orange California poppies. "My speech dress," she said.

Although DeJongh likes the beauty queen aspect of her job, she got into rodeo more for the opportunities than for the outfits. Along with her title, she won scholarship money that will take her to USC next spring.

For her, the most exciting thing about the book and the upcoming documentary is the exposure they are giving rodeo.

"So many people don't know what it's about," she said. "It's fast-paced, fun and family-oriented."

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What's Isaac Mizrahi been up to since his clothing line folded in 1998? Eisner, a close friend, said the designer will soon open a one-man comedy show off-Broadway in New York.

"He's doing what he wants to do," she said. "He's using his talent."

Mizrahi has always had a love affair with the biz. He has had roles in several films, including the autobiographical "Unzipped" (1995). Eisner said Mizrahi recently completed his first screenplay for director Barry Sonnenfeld.

I'm sure the script is a rib tickler, but I still miss his classic colorful clothes. They made me feel so very Mary (Tyler Moore, that is).

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In other fashion news . . . Mirabella magazine is folding. (Not that we'd notice.)

Parent company, Hachette Filipacchi announced that the June-July issue will be Mirabella's last.

"Since 1989, Mirabella has been an intelligent voice for women. However, with Mirabella's continuing lack of advertising support, we did not see the long-term viability for this magazine," Hachette Filipacchi CEO Jack Kliger said in a statement.

Founded by former Vogue editor Grace Mirabella, the glossy was conceived for intellectual women also interested in fashion trends--women alienated by magazines such as Harper's Bazaar and Vogue.

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Booth Moore can be reached at booth.moore@latimes.com.

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