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With scintillation, a hint of scandal and, of course, a fleet of beautiful dresses, Giambattista Valli and the house of Ungaro took L.A. by storm last week.

“Ladies, I know you are all familiar with the f-word, and I mean frock,” said Simon Doonan as he introduced the fall collection at a dinner and runway show on Wednesday at Heather Thomas and Skip Brittenham’s Santa Monica mansion to benefit the Rape Treatment Center. “So frock on, frock off and enjoy the frockage!”

This story first appeared in the April 15, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

As Calista Flockhart, Lucy Liu, Tracee Ellis Ross and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos looked on, models pranced down the Swarovski crystal-studded runway.

When Valli emerged from backstage he was mobbed by fashionistas. “L.A. women are fabulous,” he sighed, untangling himself. “They wear Juicy Couture with real couture. It’s so sexy.”

The revelry continued at Chateau Marmont, where Michelle Hicks, clad in a thigh-revealing gown, drew cat calls on Sunset Boulevard.

“It’s not exactly the kind of street you want to be walking on with your butt hanging out,” she said.

The night before it was L’Wren Scott who was doing the daring and flaunting her legs. Doonan threw a dinner for Valli inviting Marley Shelton, Lisa Eisner, Shiva Rose McDermott and Kelly Lynch to the Barney Greengrass restaurant atop Barneys New York. At the end of the night, Scott grabbed an Ungaro-clad mannequin and hauled it into the elevator.

“Wait, there’s a $3,000 blouse on that!” cried Doonan. Too late. When the elevator doors reopened, Scott was nowhere to be found, but the dummy was — with both arms broken off.

Scott’s explanation?

“They were out of goody bags,” she said. “What was I to do?”

A few blocks away, stars were making confessions of a different sort. Claire Forlani and Christina Applegate cheered as teens read their own poems at the Giorgio Armani boutique during a fundraiser for the youth arts program, Dreamyard/L.A.

“I have books upon books of my poetry,” Applegate admitted. “It was all very dark and tragic.”

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