Ralph Lauren led the fashion industry to the Clinton White House Monday and, in less than half an hour, looked all set to move in.
Ralph, who joined Hillary Clinton in a receiving line to kick off the “Fashion Targets Breast Cancer” drive, got that old Potomac fever around 4 p.m., when the First Lady — who was wearing a black Donna Karan suit with white collar and cuffs — invited Lauren and a select group of designers up to the family quarters for tea before the evening’s cocktail party.
“Ralph, this look becomes you,” Donna Karan told him, as the two stood on the Truman Balcony, with its view of the Washington Monument.
Ralph agreed. “This is very, very good,” he said.
Lauren wasn’t the only one bitten by the White House bug. Oscar de la Renta huddled with Clinton adviser Lloyd Cutler, discussing the Dominican Republic. “I do other things [besides designing],” confided Oscar.
Jeffrey Banks created his own dramatic moment when he set off the metal detectors on his way into the reception. “The guard turned to me and said, ‘Have you had a stress test lately? Because if you have you’re filled with radio isotopes’ Actually, I did have a stress test a week ago,” Banks said.
But it was Betsey Johnson who made the most dramatic entrance, with her red, white and blue stars-and-stripes platform shoes, blue spandex leotard, white tulle tutu and black tights.
Shoe designer Kenneth Cole was more interested in the spit-shine on the military guards’ shoes: “You get than using Windex?” he inquired of one guard.
But it was Hillary who got the last word on fashion: “I’ve never seen the women in the White House get more dressed up,” she said. As for her own fashion image, Hillary took a tip from the late fashion reporter Nina Hyde, whose death inspired the industry’s fund-raising effort. “Nina Hyde said she felt well-dressed if she had a Swatch watch. I went to my dresser and looked for one. After you’ve been on the worst dressed list of People magazine, you’ll look for anything.”