Byline: Aileen Mehle

Spring has sprung, and along with it, inevitable as the first robin or rosebud, springs the International Best-Dressed List, an annual fashion poll that has been going on since 1940, woman and girl, man and boy. The results are just in for 1996/1997, a round dozen women (although not one of them is really round, God forbid) selected by 1,500 fashion editors and other assorted experts who are supposed to know their stuff. You may agree or disagree. Herewith for your delectation or disappointment is an alphabetical roster of the 12 lovely creatures whose chic attire has raised them to — well, whatever:
Countess (Maria Beatrice) Arco of Austria and the U.S.A., descendant of Hapsburgs and the wife of an Austrian financier, which couldn’t hurt. Carolyn Bessette Kennedy (surprise, surprise!), the lissome blonde wife of JFK Jr., who could wear rags and still make the list. Cosima von Bulow (Mrs. Ricardo Pavoncelli), the daughter of Claus von Bulow and the American heiress Sonny von Auersperg von Bulow. Her Royal Highness Princess Pavlos of Greece (born Marie-Chantal Miller), a graceful blonde stylish to the bone. Carolina Herrera Jr., obviously the daughter of the fashion designer and icon Carolina Herrera Sr., who comes by her individual style through her genes. Nicole Kidman, the stunning red-headed Australian-born movie star who is tall enough and slim enough to be a model. You all remember her husband, Tom Cruise. Marie-Josee (Mrs. Henry) Kravis, the brainy Canadian-born wife of the New York financier. Viscountess (Serena) Linley, married to Princess Margaret’s son David Linley and always dressed a point. Joyce Ma of Hong Kong, who owns fashion shops and fashion magazines in Asia. Victoria, Lady Rothschild, an American beauty married to the London banker Sir Evelyn Rothschild of the British branch of the famous financial family. Kristin Scott Thomas (surprise, surprise!), the seductive British actress who was practically unheard of on these shores until she emoted in “The English Patient.” And finally Faye Wattleton, the public policy adviser and former president of Planned Parenthood. You always know it when Faye steps into a room.
After a woman has been listed as Best-Dressed for several years, she is deemed fashionably drop-dead enough to enter the Fashion Hall of Fame, be still my heart. This year, such lovely things as Pauline (Mrs. D. Dixon) Boardman of New York and Palm Beach; Amanda Burden, chic daughter of a chic mother, the late Babe Paley; the New York journalist Amy Fine Collins; Grace, Countess Dudley of the international social set; Aimee de Heeren, the forever beautiful socialite of New York, Palm Beach and Biarritz; Lee Radziwill Ross, Jackie Kennedy Onassis’ sister and the wife of Hollywood director Herb Ross, and lastly, Tina Turner of them there legs, have all been selected for Fashion Hall of Famedom. No matter how you feel about it, do remember to congratulate them when you run into them. They’ve got to live, too, you know, poured into the couture and dressed to the tens.
Let’s not bother much with the year’s Best-Dressed Men, if you don’t mind, other than to remark that three gentlemen whose wives made the List also made it — Henry Kravis, Viscount Linley and Sir Evelyn Rothschild. All in the family, sort of.

Fashion week is nipping at our heels, and so are Gianni Versace and his bombshell sister Donatella. The designing duo, ever cool, will fuse hot fashion and music when they present their new Versus line, all terribly matte, nothing shiny, in every shade of blue, Saturday night at the Ace Galleries. The torrid alternative English rock band, Republica, will wreak havoc. Versace plans to connect a series of rooms with a Plexiglas runway. Blue light boxes will frame the doorways, while TV monitors will reflect the action to hundreds of fashion’s finest, including Richard Avedon, Liz Tilberis, Bruce Weber and Anna Wintour. No one will be particularly surprised if Naomi Campbell leads off the parade of supes, all wearing lots of denim, loose fitting for day and asymmetrical for night. The show will even go unisex with boy models in baggy denim pants and who knows what on top. And, really, who the hell cares? There’s only so much that even Versace, who never fails to push the sexy envelope, can do with baggy denim pants. No buns, no funs.
Versace just loves celebs, so he has invited such as Elton John, Elizabeth Hurley and Hugh-know-who; Steve Tyler; Molly Ringwald; Courtney Love and, you can bet your baggy denims, champagne maker Remi Krug, ever the merchandiser, who will cart in his wares in a burgundy and gold Rolls-Royce, the better to toast Italy’s favorite brother and sister act. Oh, and the waiters will all be clad in black Versus. If you can’t tell them from the guests, don’t let it throw you. Hang loose.
After the show and the concert, there will be a late supper, exactly where is a secret. So as not to cause a crush on West Broadway, let’s just say it’s at one of Carolyn and John-you-know-who’s favorite haunts. Independent, you say? Heavens, what a good guess!

Harrison Ford, you’ll be happy to hear, goes from New York cop in “The Devil’s Own” to America’s commander-in-chief in “Air Force One.” We’ll see him the way we loved him in “The Fugitive” — brilliant, daring, risking life and limb, sigh, sigh. The movie is terrorism big-time if you call the presidential airplane getting hijacked and the leader of the free world and his family being held hostage big-time. Glenn Close plays the feisty vice president of the United States, who has to negotiate with the terrorists. One hopes she has better luck than she did with “101 Dalmatians.”

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