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Page 2 / IDEAS, TRENDS, STYLE AND BUZZ | Fashion Notes

Designer to the Stars Isn't Exactly a Camera Hog

September 15, 2000|VALLI HERMAN-COHEN | TIMES SENIOR FASHION WRITER

Peter Cohen is that rare designer who assiduously dodges the spotlight. No logos. No brash signatures. And for the 18 years that he's been in business, he's put only a golden star on his label, not his name.

"I'm a secret all over town," Cohen joked as he ushered stylists, longtime customers and newcomers through a presentation of his spring 2001 collection at Chateau Marmont on Monday. Though his clothes hang in Saks Fifth Avenue, Savannah, Avant-Garde and the closets of well-known women, including Angela Bassett and new fan Anne Heche, Cohen remains low profile.

"I don't like to be credited for my clothes," he said. He explained that clothes with obvious provenance undermine a woman's ability to create individual style. His new collection amplifies the point with its restrained luxury and spare details: soft burgundy leather skirts with chiffon wrap tops; suede coats with the barest camouflage print; leather jackets and wool gauze slip dresses with a single row of bugle bead trim. Prices range from $275 to $300 for silk tank tops; $600 to $800 for dresses; and $900 to $1,400 for leather jackets.

Such judiciousness appeals to his many high-profile clients. "There are so many contexts that you have to be in in Los Angeles. I like clothes that morph a little bit," Cohen said.

The designer and his clothes are soft-spoken, but he can be bold when the occasion requires. A few weeks ago, he approached Heche while she was lunching at Larchmont Village in Hancock Park and asked if she'd like to wear his clothes. "I'd just come from a yoga class. I looked like I was living out of my car," Heche joked.

Bassett has been wearing his designs for five years. "It's not too fussy," she said. "You don't want to be worried about your clothes. You want to look like you."

*

A lot was on the line. Geena Davis, with a TV show about to debut and a list of fashion flops to her name, had to make a statement at the Emmy Awards this week. After the statuesque, Oscar-winning star presented an award onstage, she turned into the lights. That's when Americans remembered why they loved Geena.

Framed in perfect silhouette through her sheer, sequined gown was the longest, leanest and practically naked body.

Thank Pamela Dennis for the dress, and God for the bod. Since the broadcast, many viewers have twittered that Davis was naked beneath the dress. Not so, said the star's stylist, Vivian Turner of Cloutier, who personally fashioned a nude-mesh thong with clear elastic. "I looked at [the dress] at her house with her standing in front of a window," Turner said. "It wasn't quite as see-through in that light."

The floor-length, low-cut dress was made of a printed, stretch tulle embroidered with black, white and clear sequins that gave the dress a three-dimensional effect.

"We sent little G-strings in different patterns because the first thing I said was, 'Do you want a lining?' Vivian spoke with Geena and Geena didn't think it was necessary," Dennis said. "I did offer it, just so you know." "I guess we were thinking that the pattern and the dimension would kind of camouflage whatever. She's got a lot of beautiful whatever."

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