Byline: Eric Wilson

NEW YORK — John V. Lindsay might have been responsible for changing the name of Seventh Avenue, but Rudolph W. Giuliani wants to do him one better.
Lindsay, mayor of New York from 1966 to 1973, was responsible for renaming the street Fashion Avenue and for establishing a liaison office between City Hall and Seventh Avenue. Giuliani, the current mayor, is giving the city’s fashion industry what designers feel is a major promotional boost by hosting a megafashion show in Times Square on Monday.
Donna Karan, one of about 10 designers who appeared at a press conference Thursday to discuss the show, even compared it with the Franco-American blowout held in Paris in 1973 that was, at the time, the most expensive and extravagant fashion show ever staged.
“I can recall 25 years ago when I was asked to be part of what was then the largest fashion show in the world,” Karan said. “That was held in… in…”
And for the life of her, she forgot.
“Versailles!” yelled Diane Von Furstenberg, who was sitting with the press corps in City Hall’s Blue Room. Also present at the event were Marc Bouwer, Randolph Duke, Kevan Hall, Pamela Dennis, Josie Natori, Catherine Malandrino and Anand Jon.
They were referring to the grand divertissement a Versailles, as it was called, which included the works of French designers Cardin, Givenchy, Saint Laurent, Ungaro and Marc Bohan of Dior, as well as five Americans — Bill Blass, Oscar de la Renta, Halston, Stephen Burrows and Anne Klein, where Karan was working at the time.
That event was staged as an opportunity to examine the importance of American design, a sentiment that is being echoed by planners of the New York show.
The NYC2000 Fashion Show, which is open to the public, will include millennium-inspired creations from about 90 designers; it was not limited to American firms.
“New York is the capital of the world for fashion,” Giuliani said, using a phrase born during the Lindsay administration. “As the capital of fashion, it is an appropriate inaugural event of our millennium celebrations to be the NYC2000 Fashion Show.”
“The fact that New York has moved to the start now is pretty exciting,” Karan added. “I find that people all over the world are talking about American design and I would be so bold to say that what they are talking about is New York.”
While Versailles had Liza Minelli as its star act, NYC2000 has Trisha Yearwood, who will perform before the runway show. Max Factor sponsored the makeup design at Versailles; NYC2000 has Bobbi Brown. Versailles attracted chairwomen like Rose Kennedy, Babe Paley and Deeda Blair; NYC2000 has Donald Trump.
Asked what exactly the chairman of a fashion show does, Trump said he was responsible for a lot of organizing and stage construction.
“It’s going to be big. It’s going to be beautiful,” Trump said. “My daughter’s going to be in it.”
Organizers hope between 100,000 and 500,000 people will turn up for the show. Thierry Mugler, Karan, Tommy Hilfiger, Nina Griscom, Jon Bon Jovi, Emme, Christian Slater, John Mellencamp and Maxwell are among the designers and celebrities expected to attend, according to a show spokesman.
Esther Canadas and Mark Vanderloo will open the show for Donna Karan, in what she described as an “Adam and Eve” ensemble. Georgina Grenville is walking for Carolina Herrera, Maggie Rizer for Dior, Irina Pantaeva for Von Furstenberg, Alec Wek for Helmut Lang and Kylie Bax for de la Renta.
Among the celebrities expected to walk are Angie Harmon from “Law and Order” for Marc Bouwer, Kristen Johnston from “Third Rock from the Sun” for Randolph Duke and Mya and Jordan Knight for Tommy Hilfiger.
“For those not in the business, this is going to be the biggest fashion event we will have in our lifetimes,” said Bud Konheim, chief executive officer of Nicole Miller.
“The press coverage of this thing will probably outdo the Super Bowl,” he added, laughing.
Atomic Staging and Rand.M Productions have designed a stage for the event that will stretch a full block, covering the median between Broadway and Seventh Avenue from 43rd Street to 44th Street. Models will walk uptown along the runway, then double back along exit ramps that extend into tunnels beneath a main stage at the south end of the block.
Runway lights will hang from cranes parked along the street, extending out and over the stage like giant palm trees, while the show is simulcast on some of the jumbo television screens in Times Square.
A tower for television and camera crews will be set up at the end of the runway and a second side-angle viewing platform will be set up along the runway. There will be a third area inside the Viacom Building at 1515 Broadway, where MTV films its programs, that overlooks Times Square.
Besides wearing a dress on occasion, Konheim said, Giuliani has been supportive of New York’s fashion industry by “using his bully pulpit to promote it.”
Giuliani helped organizers of 7th on Sixth move their shows back to Bryant Park from the Chelsea Piers, for instance, and has proposed retailer-friendly initiatives such as eliminating the sales tax on apparel.
Looks from the show will later be auctioned to benefit the Center for Arts Education, which was established three years ago to help restore arts education in public schools since such programs were eliminated as part of budget cuts in the mid-Seventies, Giuliani said.