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From show to showdown

September 30, 2007|Emili Vesilind and Melissa Magsaysay

IF Hilary Duff was out of breath, then no wonder. With a black beanie pulled low over her newly browned locks, she breezed into St. Vibiana's just as the lights on the Marc by Marc Jacobs show went down. It had to have been a quick drive downtown from the Chanel party in Beverly Hills, but you do what you have to do when your calendar is crowded with celebrity-studded, cross-town events.

On Sept. 20, two labels with cult-like followings held major L.A. fashion bashes. It was a night to declare loyalties: classically tweedy Chanel, or funky-frocky Marc? Only a brave few dared to put in an appearance at both. (And at least one who did -- Duff -- somehow managed to change on the way.)

It began early evening on Rodeo Drive, where guests wandered among commissioned art pieces at the newly revamped Chanel store. Samantha Traina, in a vintage YSL skirt and Givenchy blazer, inched her way through the crowd, trying to glimpse the fall merchandise on the boutique's second floor. Rona Gaye, channeling the '40s in a high-waisted Versace jumpsuit with Chanel accessories, admired the towering orange mannequins at the base of the store's staircase.

Kate Beckinsale and Sarah Michelle Gellar floated around in black tulle confections, looking like ballerinas from some dark Russian fairy tale. For her part, Duff, donning a very Goth ensemble of head-to-toe black, held court at the top of a staircase, as some of her friends ogled the craftsmanship of her gunmetal and black Chanel bag.

Later and across town, packs of braces-wearing tweens swung Chanel bags as they lined up to catch the West Coast reprisal of the spring Marc by Marc Jacobs runway show. It was part of Teen Vogue's Young Hollywood party, at one of the city's newest performance spaces.

Before the show, Hayden Panettiere, Camilla Belle and Emmy Rossum, among others, mingled in the enclosed garden, trying their darnedest to keep their spike heels from sinking into the grass. Affecting a petite Grace Kelly, Panettiere nibbled on french fries stuffed into a paper cone, while Rossum, dressed in frothy red, only had eyes for her date.

In time, reality-TV star and Teen Vogue intern Lauren Conrad in a headset, holding a clipboard, helped shepherd guests to their seats for the show, which featured a series of somber-looking models filing out in '70s-inspired pieces, including a corduroy Mr. Furley-style leisure suit.

The rumor that Marc Jacobs himself had flown in for the event was strictly a rumor. But when the lights came up, there was always Hilary Duff for those who happened to miss her entrance.

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