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Designer's Illness a Shock to the Crowd

September 18, 2000|BOOTH MOORE

NEW YORK — Fashion designer Betsey Johnson stunned the crowd at Bryant Park on Thursday when she revealed she is undergoing treatment for breast cancer. The announcement came when she and Tommy Hilfiger took the stage at a General Motors Concept Cure event to unveil two Chevrolet Cavalier automobiles they had decorated to raise funds for breast cancer research. Johnson, 58, said doctors discovered a cancerous lump in her breast during implant removal surgery about four months ago, adding, "I want to use myself as a spokesperson for early detection."


In the fashion world, Polly Allen Mellen is known for her overly enthusiastic, Diana Vreeland-esque reactions to clothes. For example, for Mellen, who has worked as a fashion editor at various publications for nearly 50 years, a collection that gives her chills, as she says, is nothing short of divine.

So, naturally, when designer Michael Kors presented the famously gray-haired Mellen with an award Wednesday night on behalf of GenArt (a group that promotes young designers) for her unflagging support of new talent, he teased her about it. He told the crowd at GenArt's "Fresh Faces in Fashion" show that he consulted the dictionary for the definition of "chills" and found it means "an unpleasant cold sensation." That is, if you don't work in fashion, he said. "Polly has created a new meaning for the word, which is the opposite of the above."

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday September 20, 2000 Home Edition Southern California Living Part E Page 3 View Desk 1 inches; 14 words Type of Material: Correction
Wrong spelling--The name of singer Jimmy Buffett was misspelled in a SoCal on Seventh column Monday.

Mellen said discovering new talent has been the highlight of her career. "We must stand behind the next generation," she told guests. "If you feel I have done that, that in my heart is my big and lasting prize."


Model Christy Turlington hosted a party to celebrate fashion photographer Pamela Hanson's new book, "Girls" (Assouline Publishing), Wednesday night at a private home in Greenwich Village. The book, which grew out of a photography exhibit Hanson mounted at Michael's restaurant in Santa Monica in 1998, offers portraits of stick-thin, gorgeous-as-hell young things and celebrities' mostly ridiculous thoughts on the subject.

Jimmy Buffet writes, "If it weren't for girls, there would just be men, snakes and a bunch of wild animals running around." For fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto, girls are "living things you cannot communicate with." For actress Gina Gershon, they are, "pink and frothy, dark and naughty, sweet and spicy fun." Say what?

Turlington, who has known Hanson for 15 years, is one of the more articulate. She writes, "I have chosen a profession in which I will always be considered a girl or one of the girls. Some might find this charming, but most girls want to grow up to be women, don't they?"



Along with book-launch parties, Fashion Week is crowded with fund-raisers such as Bazaar magazine's benefit for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation on Thursday. The "Artistically Fashionable" bash, complete with red carpet entrance, was held at the trendy Lot 61 club in the even trendier meatpacking district of Manhattan. Calvin Klein and Bazaar editor in chief Kate Betts hosted, along with New York art dealer Jeffrey Deitch.

Betts gushed to me about how much she looooves Los Angeles. "The magazine is doing more and more out there," she said, adding that the October issue features a photo shoot of the cast of the new TV show "Titans" at producer Aaron Spelling's home. "Next to New York," said Betts, "L.A. has always been considered the poor cousin when it comes to fashion. But because the fashion world is not centered there, there is less pressure, and designers are more free to be creative, which can be interesting."

Donald Trump and his model girlfriend Melania Knauss looked lost wading through scenesters with snow cones (the hip dessert). "That guy is so scary," murmured a guest as the couple pushed by. The Donald scanned the room for friendly faces for what seemed like 15 minutes . . . to no avail. At last, the giggling blond Hilton sisters, Nicky and Paris, approached to exchange air kisses. (The socially ubiquitous Hilton Hotel heiresses were the subject of a humorous article in September's Vanity Fair, which proved yet again that money doesn't equal taste.)

The young beauts (Paris, 19, is a singer in L.A., and Nicky, 16, lives in New York) cruised the club with actor Eddie Furlong in tow.

The accessory of choice for the evening wasn't a Fendi or a Louis Vuitton; it was a stuffed Dalmatian. The toys were a party favor at a Disney fashion show promo earlier in the evening for the upcoming film "102 Dalmatians." One guest remarked he had decided against leaving his Dalmatian at the coat check, for fear there would be a mix-up and he'd leave with a different dog: "We've already bonded."

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