Byline: Rosemary Feitelberg

NEW YORK — “Making women feel confident about their legs” is the greatest challenge that Mila Radulovic says she faces as the new spokeswoman for the National Association of Hosiery Manufacturers.
But she should have plenty of opportunities to do so during National Hosiery Event, which opened Saturday and runs through Sept. 21, although a schedule of appearances on talk shows and news programs and at in-store events is still being worked on. She has also taped an audio news release, which has been distributed by NAHM to 2,700 radio stations. The tape is also used as a voiceover for a video release on legwear sent by NAHM to 150 TV stations.
Looking to introduce more young women to sheers, the NAHM tapped the 31-year-old fashion consultant and actress to act as spokeswoman through the end of the year. She recently starred in an independent film, “The Story of the Red Rose,” which made its debut at this year’s Sundance Festival, but has yet to be distributed.
A self-proclaimed “Imelda Marcos of hosiery,” Radulovic said her personal fall collection consists of 75 pairs of legwear — “a mixture of the past’s greatest hits and new purchases.”
“It’s become a bit compulsive,” she laughed.
Bare-leg looks are popular on the runways, but “real girls need a lot of help,” she said. Many women don’t realize the varying degrees of contouring sheers that are available to them, according to Radulovic.
“There are waist-to-toe sheers that offer shaping without the restraint of old-school support hose,” she said. “New technology has given hosiery a fine hand. It’s soft and luxurious with support.”
Through her “Fashion Icon” boutique site on the World Wide Web, Radulovic, a former runway model, keeps visitors posted on fashion trends. She claims that more than 500,000 people visit the site each month.
In addition to offering merchandise for sale, Fashion Icon covers a variety of issues. It has addressed body piercing, tattooing, styles on the streets, the Oriental influence on fall fashion as depicted by John Galliano dresses in Bergdorf Goodman’s windows and transitioning a wardrobe from summer to fall.
Radulovic, who graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a degree in fashion design in 1990, said she has always taken an under-the-hood approach to fashion.
She has, after all, worked as the international fit model for Levi’s and in the past designed her own line of accessories for Barneys New York.
“I like to always have an ear to the ground — to be close to the design process,” she said. “I like to discover things.”
Among her favorite contemporary designers are Rebecca Danenberg, Pixie Yates, Kiki Louise — a collection designed by Amelia Sansone and Lisa Medvedik — and Terri Gillis, owner of the fashion-forward boutique TG-170 who will unveil a private label line that she designed next week.
“On my Web site, my point of view is not deliberately aimed at a younger audience. I do like alternative designers who sell to a younger crowd,” Radulovic said. “I tend to stay away from the corporate-driven mass market. I like to experiment.”
For her, it’s all about style — not labels. “When I write for the site, I don’t identify brands. In my mind, that died with the Eighties,” she said. “Women should wear what they want and what they feel good in.”
That’s fine with the NAHM, which has asked Radulovic to avoid naming brands when appearing on their behalf.
Even when pressed by a reporter to identify the labels of her three favorite legwear items — gold glitter sheers, Italian crocheted tights and brown spandex blend tights — she declines.
“My message is, ‘Create your own style.’ There are so many options in hosiery,” she said. “If I were to identify some of the brands, that would be cutting some of the fun out of it.”
Radulovic may not have all the celebrity identification of her predecessors as NAHM spokeswoman — Rachel Hunter and Lauren Hutton — but that may be all to the good, says one hosiery executive, Julia Clinard, director of marketing at Kayser-Roth Corp.
“Consumers will be able to focus on what Mila’s saying,” Clunard said. “Sometimes people get hung up on the fact they’re watching a celebrity and they’re not listening to what the celebrity is saying.”