By and  on September 16, 1994

NEW YORK -- Where Viv goes, theater follows. And the fashion show Tuesday night at Bergdorf Goodman was no exception.

With its sweeping garlands of fresh boxwood, lush arrangements of cock's comb and lilies, and tables decorated with silver epergnes of sugared nuts, candy and fresh fruits, the Vivienne Westwood fashion show was like a scene out of "Barry Lyndon."

Westwood, dressed in black with rhinestone jewelry that spelled out her name, sat at the center of the action, next to Bergdorf's president Dawn Mello. Around her buzzed a crowd of editors, photographers, young designers and the generally groovy.

Soon the lights dimmed, and models with bum-padding under their equestrian jackets and crocheted dresses began to pick their way down the aisle to a swelling score of Romantic orchestra music. More than one teetered or tripped on the infamous Westwood platform stilettos, or became entangled in a piece of flowing tartan. Dianne Brill closed the show in a spectacular knit dress that she augmented with a vampy walk.

"It's nerve-wracking to watch your own show," Westwood said afterward. "I'm much better off backstage. I thought the girls were all beautiful, but I wish we could have had a rehearsal first."

Then a crowd of admirers gathered around Westwood, including Betsey Johnson, who bowed down in front of her and said, "I'm not worthy." Johnson was sporting a pair of red Westwood high-heeled mary janes.

"Her clothes are very feminine, because they're about tits and ass," Johnson said. "The shoes make you sort of teetery and vulnerable."

And Mello said the presentation was "for effect.

"They are very wearable," she said. "If you look at the clothes, the detail is extraordinary. This is the first season we've had her, but I've always admired her direction. She's maybe the most important fashion leader we have today."

Other designers in the crowd included Kalinka, Kenneth Richard and Sophia Tezel.

"Obviously I'm a fan. Who isn't a fan?" said Richard, who stopped by on his way from the Visionaire party at Charles Cowles Gallery in SoHo.

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