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Chanel fashions as hot as weather

September 26, 2003|Gina Piccalo | Times Staff Writer

The sunshine in Goldie Hawn's backyard was so intense Tuesday afternoon that the willowy actresses wearing tweedy Chanel were once again forced to suffer for their beauty. But it was a good kind of pain, the slimming kind that looks great in photos.

"I am warm," said Mena Suvari, wearing jeans and a tweed Chanel jacket over a salmon-colored chiffon blouse. "But I had to wear my Chanel."

Sheryl Crow, decked out in a Chanel tweed miniskirt and diamond and ceramic watch, said she wears Chanel onstage because its classic lines set her apart. Besides, she added, "Now, everybody looks like a rock star."

One of the most comfortably dressed of the bunch was the luncheon's pregnant host, Kate Hudson, who looked to be nearing her due date in a sleeveless, ankle-length shift and flip-flops. (Hawn loaned her daughter her Pacific Palisades home but didn't attend the party.)

Flocks of famous women -- Rita Wilson, Barbara and Nancy Davis, Kate and Jessica Capshaw -- gathered under a shade tree to admire one another, sip champagne and nibble caviar. "Sex and the City" co-star Kristin Davis posed for photographers while answering a question from Shiva Rose McDermott and Sarah Wynter on the coming finale of her HBO series. "Everyone else feels melancholy," she said, "but I can't get there in my head. Which is good!"

As they chatted, lithe young models in stilettos braved the squishy lawn to mingle among guests and show off Chanel's cruise collection of sorbet-tinted skirts, jackets and chiffon blouses. The real draw, however, was the couture line -- the afternoon marked the first time Chanel had shown a complete couture collection in this country. "This is the way to get more customers, we hope," said manager of couture Virginie Laubie. Guests were invited to visit the Beverly Hills Chanel store, where, for a limited time, 10% of sales proceeds would go to the Children's Action Network and the Westside Children's Center.

A lunch of salmon and vegetables was served inside an air-conditioned tent set up over the paddle tennis court. Murals on the tent walls had been painted to resemble the archways and columns of the Abbaye de Port-Royal in Paris, where Karl Lagerfeld showed the Fall/Winter couture collection in July. The decor was a tribute to the clothes, said Chanel's executive vice president Barbara Cirkva. "It's very modern, but at the same time it has this medieval quality to it."

After the plates were cleared, the models appeared in the couture, which looked more like wearable art than clothing. Draped white chiffon flowed like cream. A gown of silver sequins against black velvet wore like a starry night. White fur embroidered into tweed settled onto the model like fallen snow.

When asked for the prices, publicist Anne Fahey demurred. "Each piece is made to order," she said. "They're one of a kind."

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