The Power of Celebrity Models Upstages New York Designers

Sure they're famous, but how many women can dress like them?

Model Carre Otis made page 1 of both the New York Post and the Daily News recently with stories about her runway walks past estranged husband Mickey Rourke.

The Federal Trade Commission is investigating designers for possible price fixing of fees paid to runway models.

Harper's Bazaar features a star-is-shorn cover story about model Nadya Auermann's supersonic haircut.

Cindy Crawford made one of her infrequent runway appearances for designer Richard Tyler. Richard Gere was not in his usual Cindy-watching seat in the front row.

Eve Salvail, the once-bald model, has covered her tattooed pate with a new head of brunette-dyed hair.

Model Kate Moss's boyfriend, Johnny Depp, was late to arrive at the Marc Jacobs show, so the designer started it all over for him.

Yes, this is a fashion story.

This is the New York ready-to-wear story for spring 1995 - the season the models stole fashion.

Models have been on stage for years, of course, but this season they have taken center stage, leaving a lot of designers waiting in the wings.

The media, especially TV and supermarket tabloids, interview models, not designers. Magazines pine for models. Designers design for them. The spring clothes displayed recently in New York's Bryant Park are so model-driven one wonders if the non-models who are supposed to buy them will be able to wear them.

First, women are being exhorted to buy a bra and corset, the two key shapemakers for spring. Second, they're being urged to show them - that is, if they want to be ``in fashion.''

When mainstream designers such as Linda Allard of Ellen Tracy offer serious work suits with bras instead of blouses for spring, women know something's up. And when Isaac Mizrahi offers a pink Lurex corset as the top for his pink ceo suit, the glass ceiling has been broken.

The new discipline that controls the season is in direct contrast to the anything-goes attitude of recent fashion. The requisite bras and girdles will help, but women will have to get - and stay - in shape if they have any hope of wearing the new shrunken tops and sweaters, the tight skirts, and the form-following jackets.

Here's a rundown of what's considered ``in'' this spring: High-heeled shoes

Sandals with four-inch heels owned the runways, day and night. If you don't happen to have a chauffeur and limo, you will be happy to learn that there are plenty of delicate shoes with 1-1/2- to 2-1/2-inch heels in the spring accessories market. Patent leather and vinyl are the favorite material in black, white, and color. So are python or python-printed reptile and clear Lucite. The toes show, so pedicures become de rigueur, with dark nail polish the shade of record. Shoes often match the outfits or the belts they accompany.

Narrow belts

In leather, python, or patent, the skinny little belt is big. It marks the waistlines of suits and dresses, and it is worn over hip-length sweaters and skirts.

The hand-held bag

The favorite bag of most designers is the oblong, envelope-shaped clutch. As with shoes, the favorite materials are patent, python, or see-through vinyl - black, white, or color. Shoulder bags are a casualty of the season, and backpacks look threatened as the ladylike mode takes over. The satin skirt

If you could only buy one apparel item this spring, the quintessential essential is a satin skirt. First shown last year by Prada in Milan and seconded as a half slip this season by Karl Lagerfeld for Chloe, the satin or charmeuse skirt is offered by almost every designer in New York, often in platinum or gray, often knee-length.

Donna Karan shows satin skirts with wool jackets. Richard Tyler suits them with matching open-neck jackets in his signature collection, and offers them with color-contrasting sweaters for Anne Klein. Anna Sui likes them with metallic jackets. And Ralph Lauren shows them with cashmere twin sets.

Satin is also the favorite expression of shine, appearing as slips, dresses, suits, pants, pantsuits, and coats - especially short trenches.

The shrunken top

The tight shirt of 1970s memory and the crop top have both been shrunk. Todd Oldham's Daisy Mae polka dot tops leave a wide expanse of midriff above solid-color wrap skirts. Ralph Lauren and Richard Tyler for Anne Klein miniaturize the polo sweater.

The overall mood everywhere is feminine - both elegant, white-glove feminine and dangerous, femme fatale feminine.

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