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Paparazzi Fall for April Fool’s Joke

April 2, 1996

NEW YORK (AP) _ The fashion world claimed new victims as paparazzi fell for an April Fool’s item in Women’s Wear Daily and staked out Oscar de la Renta’s show, expecting to catch O.J. Simpson. They had to settle Monday for a phalanx of socialites, including Crown Princess Marie Chantel of Greece, Nancy Kissinger and Donna Giuliani, the wife of New York City’s mayor.

As the fall fashion openings continued, de la Renta and Bill Blass offered handsomely sculpted plaid suits, perfectly appointed for soirees at The Four Seasons.

Anna Sui served her cutting-edge customers a funky mix of Roaring ’20s and Superfly ‘70s, while Cynthia Rowley went retro with polyester-like fabrics, feelin’ groovy macrame dresses, pastel blue knee-high boots, and floppy hippie hats. And bicoastal designer Bob Mackie showed beaded gowns in traffic-stopping red, eminently suited for Hollywood nights.

Both Blass and de la Renta specialize in upwardly mobile versions of the trends for social-page ladies. On Monday, Blass placed his bid for classicism in the guise of plaid skirted suits with fitted jackets and black suede shoe boots. On an upbeat note, splashes of brights dotted the collection, such as black skirts with wool crepe jackets in lime, lavender or taxi yellow, with matching tights.

A focal point of the Blass line was the simple black turtleneck ubiquitous on this season’s runways, which he updated with a sexy cutout back or neckline.

De la Renta set the stage for sophistication with quiet separates such as a double-faced wool coat, silk blouse and wool pants, all in forest green, with matching gloves and slip-on flats. A multicolored checked suit was coordinated with a structured top-handle handbag and high heels, all in the same pattern. Evening was a sumptuous story of embroidered velvet gowns, and strapless ball gowns with cashmere sweaters or scarves tied at the neck.

Elsewhere on the runways, Sui and Rowley, who each have their own boutiques in SoHo, made a case for young, downtown street fashion. On Sunday, Sui revisited the ’70s, reviving flared leather pants, Afghan blanket skirts, Annie Hall thrift-shop knit sweaters over long loose print skirts, and anything Ultrasuede. From the ’20s came head-hugging cloches and panne velvet flapper dresses with T-strap satin high heels.

Rowley is a designer who has been known to commute to work via motorcycle and to employ a boxing trainer for sessions with her staff. This time she got wild and wacky with mismatched colors, such as a celadon skirt with orange top and cordovan leather jacket, and black and white mini dresses with bright tights and shoes in lime, orange or bubble gum pink.

She heated things up by using New York City firemen to model suits in orange and purple. On a cozier note were sky-blue separates in nubby cabled wool.

Sunday also marked the return of Mackie, who staged a show at Laura Belle, a former supper club, after a three-year hiatus from the business.

Mackie is launching a line of evening wear from $500 to $3,000. Once again he’s serving up beads and baubles, on gowns with jeweled Art Deco details, organza ruffled hems and strapless bodices. This time, however, the clothes are a bit quieter.

``I’m not doing one of those big-theme jobs,″ Mackie says. ``The clothes are more important when you come back into business. We don’t want to cover them up with flash.″

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