A REAL SPONGE: SpongeBob has never looked so good. Sixteen designers, including Giorgio Armani, Carolina Herrera and Donna Karan, have created pants inspired by Nickelodeon’s most popular cartoon character, which will be auctioned Sept. 19-30 on eBay to benefit the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. Pretty impressive for a guy who lives in a pineapple under the sea and could easily be mistaken for a slab of Swiss cheese.

In line with the show’s nautical theme, Diane von Furstenberg decorated her pants with images of fish and kelp, and Oscar de la Renta adorned his with starfish and pineapples. Others took less literal approaches. P. Diddy’s Sean John design features baseball caps worn backwards and record players, while DKNY’s version is imprinted with what looks like Day-Glo chalk graffiti.

But there’s more. Celebrities will wear SpongeBob’s designer duds in a fashion show Saturday at the Kids for Kids Celebrity Carnival to be hosted by Whoopi Goldberg. Count on a crowd, considering each episode reels in about 2.5 million viewers.

CAMERA SHY: Among the many cameras found backstage during Fashion Week is at least one that’s shooting clips for “Snapshot,” a documentary on models and the fashion industry. Kevin Ashe, a producer for the upcoming flick, who was hanging out backstage at the Betsey Johnson show, would not comment, but insiders said actress Athina Curry is playing the lead.

WHAT YOU MISSED: Vanessa Carlton is among the famous folks making the rounds this week, hitting Alice Roi and Diane von Furstenberg on Sunday, and is already a master of front-row banter. “I’m here to support the cloth,” she announced. “But not in a religious way.”

She did, however, miss one show, skipping Kimora Simmons’ Baby Phat festival on Saturday night when a party downtown for J.T. Leroy took longer than Carlton had expected. “It was a disaster,” she said, in case anyone thought she was the type to drop an invitation when presented with a better offer. “Courtney Love was in all her glory.”

WISHFUL THINKING: After all the years that Susan Sarandon has been attending fashion shows, the actress has yet to become jaded by all the fuss. With her partner, Tim Robbins, Sarandon was back in the front row at Diane von Furstenberg on Sunday night, but she claimed her runway experience has made her no more astute to judging fashion trends than the average celebrity. She just likes clothes.

“It wouldn’t even occur to me to have a critical eye,” Sarandon said. “Although I’m always hoping someone does something they shouldn’t, like laughing or not looking so serious. Just have some fun.” Seriously, though, Robbins had his mind on other things besides the clothes, as he’s preparing to take on a new play called “Embedded,” which is about journalists covering the war in Iraq. It must be tough to translate all that sand on a stage, right?

“You’ll have to see the play to find out,” he said. Ah, right, can’t reveal too much about the location, lest he experience one of those Geraldo Rivera moments.

HAIR CARE: The vision of Elsa Klensch throughout her 21-year career with CNN was always that of a straight-and-sleek-haired woman. So it came as somewhat of a surprise Monday when the TV journalist showed up at the Yeohlee show sporting a short, permed ’do. So much of a surprise, in fact, that several fashion veterans walked right by her front-row seat without as much as a hello.

The cut, Klensch said, came as a result of a trip to Australia about six months ago.

“We were there for the holidays and were going to be swimming and in the sun, so I wanted something easy,” Klensch said. “I went to my stylist Ishi, of New York’s Salon Ishi, and said ‘I need a change!’”

Seated not far away was John Bartlett, who looked his usual dapper self. No news in the hair department, but the designer said he’ll be announcing a licensing agreement for men’s shirts and ties sometime soon.

TIMING IS EVERYTHING: Don’t count on the 7th on Sixth buses to get you to the shows on time. Two buses leaving Betsey Johnson’s show at Bryant Park around 5:25 p.m. pulled into the DKNY show at 540 West 21st Street at around 5:45 p.m., just as girls were taking their final walk down the runway. According to one of the DKNY reps letting people into the show, they were under the impression that the Johnson show had ended at 4:45 p.m. The late arrivals,including Ginia Belafante of the New York Times and a slew of editors and retailers, gathered to watch the curtain call and then left.

EARLY-BIRD SPECIAL: There shouldn’t be too many complaints about lack of sleep during fashion week, at least after Sunday night’s low-key celebrations. Lacoste’s party at the Central Park Zoo drew a reasonable, if subdued, crowd, but three days of intense humidity sent many frizzed-out fashionistas home to bed early.

But Nicole Miller’s staff was raving about their post-show dinner at Charbon, where a drunken band of fellow diners coerced Cyndi Lauper to belt out a rendition of “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” Miller was inspired to kick off a conga line around the restaurant. It was at the ripe old hour of 8:30 p.m.

CROSSOVER APPEAL: Rachel Roberts, among the models to make the transition to the big screen in last year’s bomb, “Simone,” attended the Luca Luca show for the first time as a guest on Sunday, having regained her figure since giving birth recently by running 2 miles, three times a week. Sitting between Garcelle Beauvais and Anthony Kiedis, she said she’s considering a couple of offers, as actresses say, so a little front-row exposure couldn’t hurt. Ingrid Casares, Paulina Rubio, Carson Kressley, Roberto Cavalli, Bianca Jagger, Seal, Salman Rushdie, Donald Trump and Ivana Trump were also thinking along the same lines, apparently.

“I haven’t seen so many stars in one place looking to shop,” Roberts said. “That’s quite a feat.”

Meanwhile, it appears Oksana Baiul has a new fan in Kressley, of the Fab Five in “Queer Eye.” The pair had a chance meeting backstage at Luca Luca, posing for photo-ops. Kressley, who came “to see the couture du jour,” said the first time he met Baiul was on the red carpet for the “Legally Blonde 2” premiere. “That was when she was famous and I wasn’t.” Baiul said Kressley plans to see her in a “Stars on Ice” tour beginning Jan. 2 — for which Baiul will soon begin practicing twice a day. “I’m so there,” Kressley said of the skating shows, adding that Baiul has the “sassiest style on ice.” Asked about their chance encounters at Luca Luca and on the red carpet, Kressley said, “Maybe we should get together.”THE SHOW MUST GO ON: Under the tents doesn’t necessarily mean at the fashion shows, as proven Monday by Lucy Liu. Seated in a makeshift green room after the kickoff news conference for Saks Fifth Avenue’s Key to the Cure, the “Charlie’s Angels” star said, “I’m only seeing things from behind-the-scenes. It would be really great to see the whole thing — what designers have put together.”

Also on hand for the cause, Jamie Tisch said “We missed Tuleh last night but we just saw it,” pointing toward the large screen TV showing taped shows. Tisch said she was excited to catch Marc Jacobs, Narciso Rodriguez and a few others. She also squeezed in some time to pick up some “great new Manolo Blahniks and Lambertson Truex bags, which are good for every day” at Neiman Marcus for her New York trip.

LAB CHECK: Don’t look for her in Bryant Park, but Linda Evangelista is expected at Wednesday’s bash at the DDCLAB space in the Meatpacking District along with Rosario Dawson. Maxwell, who bikes to the store once a week to shop or grab some java, will DJ Savania Davies-Keiller and Roberto Crivello, DDC’s husband-and-wife design team, suit him up for special events like the VMAs. The party celebrates the company’s new co-branded footwear with PF Flyers, and apparel will follow.

THREE’S A CROWD: First there was “Lord of the Rings.” Now Janice Dickinson is turning “No Lifeguard on Duty,” which was a New York Times bestseller last year, into a trilogy. She just finished book two, which is called “Everything About Me is Fake, I’m Perfect (The Perfliction Complex).” “I rip apart the underbelly of the fashion industry,” Dickinson said somewhat hyperbolically Sunday night. “It’s about photo retouching, plastic surgery, all of that. I see girls and they look at me with that look of hunger. This is for them.” Dickinson, who said that Gilles Bensimon would photograph one of the covers of her books, has also begun filming for the second season of “America’s Next Top Model” as she gets cracking on book three.WYNTER SHOWS: “24”’s Sarah Wynter is getting around this week. The blonde actress ducked backstage before the Nicole Miller show for a quick touch-up from Stila’s Jeanine Lobell (whose husband, Anthony Edwards, and daughter were also spotted backstage), then took in the show, wearing a blush-satin, spaghetti-strapped Nicole Miller dress she’d picked up at the designer’s boutique on Sunset in L.A. Wynter, who is set to take a recurring role in the series this coming season, said she also plans to take in Calvin Klein, Oscar de la Renta, Nanette Lepore and Peter Som this week.

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