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Forget the Runways--Fashion Week Hoopla Starts With the Invites

September 13, 2000|BOOTH MOORE

Ah, New York City. Mountains of trash on the sidewalk, taxi horns blaring, takeout food 24/7, and fashion. Though the leaves are just beginning to turn, the spring runway shows will start here Thursday. This season, more than 100 designers are scheduled to trot out new looks for journalists and store buyers at Bryant Park, the green space at 42nd Street and Sixth Avenue that becomes a well-heeled tent community for the week.

Last winter, when I first covered the collections (one of the most hallowed events among those who know their stilettos from their mules), it was a bit intimidating. This time, it's become apparent--the whole experience is designed to be that way.

First off, the invitation process is unwieldy. Each designer or company sends an invitation to guests who must RSVP and wait for a call with their seating assignments.

The shows are organized by public relations firms, which run the automated RSVP lines. Each firm handles several shows, but guests don't know that, and it's common to call the same office six or seven times with RSVPs. (Fashion people aren't known for being technically inclined, so there's no way--at least that I have found--to RSVP for more than one show with the same phone call.)

Then there are the invitations themselves. The trend among this season's crop seems to be indecipherable type. The invitation from Holland & Holland of London, for example, is a cream-colored card engraved with cream writing. I actually had to use a crayon to make a rubbing of the RSVP number.

Fashion fans nationwide will be able to watch the New York shows on cable this year: E! Entertainment Television's Style Network has inked a deal with 7th on Sixth and the Council of Fashion Designers of America to become the official network of General Motors Fashion Week.

"It's an apropros time for us to be doing this with the Olympics about to start, because as the network of fashion, beauty and home design, our Olympics is the New York shows," said E! Networks president and CEO Mindy Herman. "No other piece of programming could make a better statement to our commitment to fashion and style."

Style will cover shows and parties, broadcasting from 5-7 p.m. beginning Thursday. In addition, E! Television will present a nightly half-hour show devoted to Fashion Week, which will air Monday through Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. Former supermodel Paulina Porizkova will host.

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In case you think fashion people don't read, some of the hottest parties this week are book-related. The DKNY store on Madison Avenue will host a book signing for "Four Blondes" (Atlantic Monthly, $24), the latest book from "Sex and the City" author Candace Bushnell. Kelly Klein will launch her new book, "Cross" (Callaway, $95), a coffee-table tome about crosses, with a bash. Model Christy Turlington will host a dinner for American photographer Pamela Hanson to celebrate her new book, "Girls" (Editions Assouline, $34.95), and makeup artist Bobbi Brown will welcome teen queens with candy necklaces (included with the invites) at a soiree for her "Teenage Beauty Book" (Cliff Street Books, $24.95).

Hairstylist John Frieda and Vogue magazine kicked off the book bashes Monday with a party at Orsay restaurant for "The Vogue Book of Blondes" (Viking Studio, $24.95), a survey of the history and psychology of the fair-haired from Roman times to the present.

Between air kisses, the book's blond author, British Vogue beauty and health editor Kathy Phillips, summed up her vision: "The whole world wants in on the myth of the blond."

I knew that.

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Booth Moore will be reporting from New York until the end of next week.

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