FORGET OLYMPUS, HELLLLO OLYMPIANS: As the runway cleared to signal the start of Jeffrey Chow’s show on Thursday afternoon, in swam the gold medal trio of Michael Phelps, Lenny Krayzelburg and Ian Crocker — awe-inspiring, if not slightly out of place. Phelps was seated next to Anna Wintour, who congratulated him on his Olympic performance, while Krayzelburg, across the runway, fielded a polite request for an autograph from In Style’s Cindy Weber Cleary, which he personalized for her son.
“I really didn’t know what to expect, other than I was interested to see some new fashion,” said Phelps, who, like Krayzelburg and Crocker, was perched at the edge of his seat as if they were about to dive into the runway.
Krayzelburg, clearly the stylish one, asked several intelligent questions throughout the show, demonstrating an unexpected fashion proficiency, even though the swimmers had no choice in the selection of which show they were attending. They were guests of W Hotels, in town to promote a charity, and had been whisked in through the “W Hotels V.I.P. Backstage Game Room” at the tents.
“How long do the shows go on for?” he asked. “Is this a young designer?”
Chow was equally curious about the Olympians. In the typical backstage frenzy, he was under the impression that no less than nine were in the audience, and didn’t even know how they got there.
“I’m not 100 percent sure,” Chow said. “I think my p.r. people pulled it off.”
PARKER’S POSSE: Fans of Sarah Jessica Parker clearly aren’t afraid to face a little hardship to see the actress. A crowd of more than 800 of them packed into a Gap store at Fifth Avenue and West 54th Street in Manhattan on Thursday morning for a chance to see her — and to receive some makeover tips.
The first two women on line were a pair of Fordham University students who’d left their Bronx dorms at 12:30 a.m. to claim their spot. “The overnight crew came out and gave us a couple of chairs to sit on,” said Meg Trosko, 19, of Westbury, N.Y.
Her friend, Clare Lanphear, also 19 and originally from Cleveland, said the wait hadn’t bothered her as much as the off-and-on rain that fell all night.
When Parker herself arrived at 11 a.m. she was introduced by Gap Inc. chief executive officer Paul Pressler, and held a drawing to pick five people who she’d help make over. Dressed in a tight pair of five-pocket Gap jeans cropped just below the knee, Parker got right down to business — as the first winner stepped up to the podium she quipped, “Take those jeans off right now.”
Another teen at the front of the line was Priscilla Mendoza, 18. She said that she and a friend did most of their waiting at a Gucci store across the street “because they had heated sidewalks.”
Asked if she’d been nervous spending the night on the street, the Palo Alto, Calif., native shrugged off concern, then admitted, “If my parents found out they’d kill me. But it is Fifth Avenue.”
CIAO, POLO: When Polo Ralph Lauren opened its Milan flagship this week, the company didn’t know what to expect. But no one could have predicted that 2,000 customers would flood the store in less than six hours, from the opening at 1:15 p.m. to closing time at 7 p.m. A spokeswoman for the company said that if such heavy traffic keeps up, the store is planning to set up temporary queues along the street, complete with white-jacketed waiters serving champagne to whet the shopping appetite.
CHARACTER ANALYSIS: In what looked like an unofficial changing of the guard, Stella McCartney waited with a friend outside the Thompson Hotel seemingly unaware that Elsa Klensch was holding court upstairs at her book party for “Live at 10:00, Dead at 10:15.”
Calvin Klein passed through the crowded bar like an aberration, interrupting an interview with the author to hug her with, “I love seeing the reverse. You answering the questions.”
“She’s the best — absolutely the best,” he said, and then exited shortly after he arrived.
Bobby Short, Yeohlee, Joseph Abboud, Ruth Finley, Monika Tilley and B. Michael were also on hand to wish Klensch well with her latest endeavor.
“I’m a risk-taker. I like doing something different. That’s what got me into CNN and into writing books,” she said.
CROC TALK: “It’s much ado about 15 minutes.” That’s how former ’NSyncer JC Chavez summed up fashion shows at the Lacoste presentation Wednesday night, although the crooner said he does sport collared shirts from time to time. Actress Debi Mazur, now appearing in HBO’s “Entourage,” said she usually stays clear of the fashion madness. “I love going to shows, but I don’t go often and I am really antifashion,” she said. “I like things that are classic and I am not into trends.” Meanwhile, Paris and Nicky Hilton took their seats just as the lights dimmed, but the sisters seemed more interested in applying lip gloss and toying with their phones and Blackberries than actually watching the presentation.
COLD SHOULDER: French actress Audrey Tautou of “Amélie” fame is still getting accustomed to the red carpet. In Paris Tuesday night for a screening of her new film, “Un Long Dimanche de Fiançailles” or “A Very Long Engagement,” she balked when the paparazzi pleaded with her to peel off her coat. “This dress exposes my body too much,” she demurred, offering a peak of the strapless Marni beneath her red coat. The screening, hosted by French President Jacques Chirac and his wife, Bernadette, was a benefit for French hospitals that officially kicks off the Paris social season. The film, by Jean Pierre Jeunet, to be released next month in the U.S., also stars Jodie Foster, Julie Depardieu and Marion Cotillard.
BRIT INVASION: As DJs at Bergdorf Goodman on Wednesday night played a cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Miss You,” Keith Richard’s daughter, Theodora, arrived to host a party for the English handbag line Mulberry. “I love the bags, particularly the green ones,” she said. Asked to elaborate, she struggled, proving she still has a few useful things to learn from her parents. “My mom and dad are the best at one-liners,” Richards said quickly before popping off to the Fashion Rocks event at Radio City Music Hall. “They are an inspiration.”
TINY POPS: After Liz Lange’s show Thursday, Chynna Phillips, whose baby with husband Billy Baldwin is due in December, clued in friends that her fellow Wilson Phillips bandmembers, Wendy and Carnie Wilson, are also pregnant. Phillips is the daughter of John and Michelle Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas, and the Wilsons are former Beach Boy Brian Wilson’s daughters. No word yet if there are plans to recruit the third generation into the family business.
DOWN TIME: It may come as no surprise that Patricia Clarkson was dressed to the nines in a navy Bill Blass dress — “a little bouclé, a knit number,” as she called it — backstage prior to the show Thursday. After all, “Michael Vollbracht is a beautiful designer and a spectacular man,” the 2004 Oscar nominee said, noting he dressed her for the Golden Globes and Academy Awards, where she was nominated for her Best Supporting Actress role in “Pieces of April.” She lined up after the show alongside Becca Cason Thrash, in from Houston, Marisa Berenson and Cece Cord to congratulate Vollbracht. Other social fixtures in Blass’ front row included Hilary Dick, Susan Fales-Hill, Eleanor Lembo, Jamee Gregory, Neva Anton and Muffie Potter Aston, who is headed to Peru tomorrow to hike Machu Picchu.
Clarkson finished a monthlong run as Blanche in “A Street Car Named Desire,” which wrapped at the Kennedy Center in Washington at the end of May. She’s now on what she referred to as a requisite hiatus before the premieres next year of her next two films, “The Dying Gaul” and “The Woods,” a horror flick. “I’m trying to figure out what I’m going to do for fall,” Clarkson said, adding, “I’m not doing anything now, which is nice.”
MIELE’S MOVE UPTOWN: Saks Fifth Avenue in November will open a shop for Carlos Miele, said Ilyse Gouse, buyer for couture eveningwear and bridal at Saks. The boutique will be on the third floor alongside in-store shops for Carolina Herrera, Akris, Yves Saint Laurent and Oscar de la Renta, among others. Saks has been a booster of Miele, carrying his evening dresses in select stores and organizing trunk shows in its stores around the country, Miele said. He’ll expand his retail presence with a store in Paris next year. In other news, the Miele camp reported that one of the designer’s celebrity fans, Alicia Keys, has confirmed her attendance at the runway show in Bryant Park on Sunday.
IVANA MY OWN SHOW: An inexplicable number of flashbulbs and film cameras followed Ivana Trump into Carolina Herrera’s show Thursday. It’s been said she’s working on her own reality show, but was this part of it? “No,” she said. “The show will be ‘Ivana Manor.’ A 37- or 38-year-old woman will have a cast of 10 younger men to choose from.” Sounds more “Bachelor” than “Apprentice,” but it appears one guest in particular won’t be watching. “What’s the fuss over Ivana?” a woman sitting in the front row a few seats away from Trump asked her friend. “She’s, like, from the Seventies.”
Meanwhile, having spent the summer holed up in his country house polishing up a new novel, Dominick Dunne turned up looking dapper and somehow rested at his friend Herrera’s show. “I love the way she looks and she’s a fabulous person. It’s a fun show and everyone sees each other for the first time after summer.”
But Bryant Park is a far cry from the courtrooms he’s more accustomed to. “There’s not much laughter and kissing in a courtroom,” he said.
Aside from saying his forthcoming book is set in New York and is called “A Solo Act,” Dunne was buttoned-up about the details. “I never tell what it’s about. It’s bad luck.”
UNRAVELED: It looks like Pinault-Printemps-Redoute honcho Serge Weinberg’s wife, Nicole, has cut short her career as a fashion designer. Last March, she showed a capsule collection of evening sweaters codesigned with Gilles Dufour. But sources in Paris said Dufour and Weinberg have decided to throw in the towel on their collaboration.
YOU’RE HIRED: Veteran runway hairstylist Orlando Pita wants to “change his life little by little.” That’s why he will open his own salon in the Meatpacking District next month. “I’ve never worked in a salon before,” the first-time entrepreneur said backstage at Proenza Schouler Thursday after revealing the retail revelation. “I need to challenge myself.”
Pita found the space at 34 Gansevoort Street in early July and expects to start working one week a month there in mid-October. “I get back from [Paris and Milan] Oct. 13. I’ll probably start the next day.”
Pita, who has done men’s, women’s and couture shows in the U.S. and Europe, is doing eight shows during New York Fashion Week and representing various brands, including Redken and Aveda.
While his salon clientele is yet to be determined, Pita is sure of one thing: “It’s on the third floor, so unless you know, you wouldn’t go.” Spoken just like someone who has spent 20 years building a successful freelance career. Oh, and the name of the new space? Orlo.