By  on January 25, 2005

NEW YORK — Ever unconventional, Maggie Norris is casting her eyes in a different direction, and this time, a film expert will be looking closely over her shoulder.

Indie film director Andrew Le Pera will be calling the shots Wednesday afternoon, when he helps Maggie Norris shoot her collection on 25 stylish New Yorkers for a four-minute film and look book. “The Night They Invented Champagne,” Lerner and Loewe’s standout song from “Gigi,” provided the primary inspiration for the shoot, which will be staged at Salon, a new nightclub that opens Feb. 3.

A century ago, the space was a ballroom popular with luxury steamship passengers, so Norris thought it was only fitting for society types such as Marie Douglas David, Carola Hendrichs, Gillian Hearst, Somers Farkas and Muffie Potter Aston to informally model her clothes while they sip Veuve-Clicquot champagne and listen to Grace Hightower De Niro singing Cole Porter tunes.

“I try to create venues that are a little different,” said Norris, whose “Couture for Peace” show will be held at the United Nations this spring. “I try to create for a reason — not just to put out a line.”

One aspect of the setup that appealed to Norris was that Hightower will perform in a roomful of her friends who will be beautifully dressed enjoying each other’s company. Another plus is that Norris will not be the focus. “I like that we can create scenarios where everyone can win. It’s a celebration, in that sense,” Norris said. “It’s not only about me. There will be many different levels of presentation.”

The film’s producer, Joe Yiucho Cheng, will be the only man to appear in it. But the women and, of course, their clothes, will be the focus. An embroidered black laser-cut skirt with a cream embroidered corset, a “Jackie O-inspired” ballgown embroidered with pearls and flowers, and a Greta Garbo-inspired evening gown are among the different pieces to be shown.

“It will be a mix of different periods and styles. Not everything looks like it’s from the Twenties or Thirties,” Norris said. “There are many looks because every woman is different. Each person coming is not a model and requires a different style. But they each look beautiful in their own way.”Le Pera said Norris’ designs lend themselves to cinema and the old grandeur of Hollywood, since they have so much “motion, shadows and texture.” One of Wednesday’s subjects, Gillian Hearst, is a familiar face to Le Pera. She stars in “Happy Ending,” a feature film musical he plans to start shooting in a month.

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