NEW YORK--A blizzard of paparazzi. An army of living logos. Two or three million fashion editors. A tribe of supermodels. A few big-name movie stars. And 94 boutiques selling designer goods--wholesale. Mix it all together and what have you got? Fashion heaven.
To a lot of people, that's just what the opening night of 7th on Sale was. Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan and Anna Wintour worked the receiving line at the 69th Regiment Armory while an eclectic crowd of designers, socialites and even a few stars of the art world learned a thing or two about how Hollywood types--although a few less than promised--work the press.
"No pictures!" barked Leonardo DiCaprio's flack. "He's not doing any interviews right now!" She yelled this at everyone, including those who didn't know who she was talking about.
Fran Drescher, however, could have been wearing an "Interview Me" sign over her red skintight sheath, which she proclaimed "the loudest thing Armani ever made!" The actress posed, primped, worked her boa and tossed off sound bites in her exaggerated Queens accent. And she got all the local television coverage.
Julia Ormond, the only real A-list star in a turnout that included Molly Ringwald, David Bowie, Peter Gallagher, Peter Berg, Jennifer Beals and Marisa Tomei, played the shy young thing in Ralph Lauren's demure pink jacket and cream trousers. "I'm not ensconced in the fashion business," Ormond said, as she was guided through the crush by Ricky Lauren. "I came because it's a fabulous event. It's good if you can draw attention to the cause."
With the throngs of camera crews, some would-be shoppers were deterred from the bargains.
"I like it, but the problem is it's crowded, and you can't try anything on," said Rosie Perez. "I wish I could do more shopping," DiCaprio managed to say when his publicist wasn't looking. "But the press keeps interrupting."
Still, die-hard shoppers did it with a vengeance. Marisa Tomei actually got on her hands and knees to inspect garments at both the Barneys booth and at Richard Tyler. "I didn't see a Fendi booth," she called out. "Do you know if there's a Fendi or a Gucci booth?" Tina Brown combed every booth, from Adrienne Vittadini to The Gap, checking price tags and loading up bags that her husband, Harry Evans, wound up toting. Martha Stewart treated 7th on Sale like she does everything in her life.
"I'm very orderly," she said. "I go from place to place. I like Armani and Mizrahi."
Pat Buckley used Karan, who looked great decked all in white, as her personal shopper. And Nancy Kissinger loaded up on T-shirts from Banana Republic.
"This is it!" Nina Griscom declared. "I did my Christmas shopping and bought an incredible Dolce & Gabbana suit." Donatella Versace, who's always on the go, grabbed up a Louis Vuitton traincase.As usual, the supermodels created the biggest fashion buzz with outfits that had wildly disparate hemlines. Karen Mulder wore a shrunken white HotPants suit by Dolce & Gabbana, while Trish Goff, with her new Mod bob by John Sahag, donned a floor-length champagne Victor Alfaro slip and leopard coat. Amber Valletta's knee-length leopard shift was also by Alfaro. Claudia Schiffer wore a knee-length black lace Chanel with a diamond necklace. Donovan Leitch, recently dumped by Gwyneth Paltrow for Brad Pitt, brought Kirsty Hume, who wore Richard Tyler. Creating more buzz were the new short-short hairdo's on Naomi Campbell and John Galliano, who sported short, stubby braids where his dreadlocks used to be.
"They were getting too hot," he said.
Although the event raised approximately $1.5 million for various AIDS causes, the live auction hosted by Rosie O'Donnell--who spent the early part of the evening doing interviews for "Entertainment Tonight"--didn't quite come off quite as planned.
In fact, it bombed.
The first item up for grabs was a Fendi fur coat by Karl Lagerfeld, who called himself "the only French designer here." When the coat didn't exactly cause a bidding frenzy, Oscar de la Renta, who's just as French and who was sitting at the same table as KL, graciously bid $15,000. David Bowie was another big spender: He purchased seven loose diamonds for $15,000. Lucky Iman.
But then, there were a lot of lucky people. The boutiques were jammed all night, and the money--not to mention the plastic--flowed faster than the champagne.
"It feels good to spend money tonight," said Claudia Schiffer. A supermodel never lies.

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