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Why don't we have, as the Brits do, a sitcom about the fashion biz?

I was thinking this the other day as I paged through Michael Gross' cover story in New York about Patrick McCarthy, the chap who succeeded John Fairchild (you don't replace John, actually; you sort of follow in his footsteps).

There was lots of dish, including the fact Mr. McCarthy plays bridge every Wednesday with Pat Buckley.

But the absolutely sublime moment in the article came with the revelation that, in aping his boss, Mr. McCarthy has taken to wearing his wristwatch on his right wrist, as does Mr. Fairchild. Mr. Fairchild, of course, being a lefthander, has a good reason, while Mr. McCarthy swings from the right side of the plate.

So to speak.

When I was publisher of Women's Wear Daily and all that, no one ever switched wrists for me. A few may have "swished" from time to time, but let's not get into that. And I'm sure it's unworthy of me even to suggest it.

I do think it was an oversight on the part of writer Gross not to mention that when John Fairchild was young, and blond, he was a firm believer in maintaining his hair color through the squeezing of lemon halves atop his head in summer so the juice moistened and bleached the locks (and you would see the odd lemon pip strewn there among the Fairchild strands). I have never, ever, seen anyone else do this.

Though perhaps in his private moments, Mr. McCarthy does, despite being a brunette.

Then Billy Norwich in The New York Observer reported on a meeting held (for obscure reasons) at JFK by the Council of Fashion Designers of America "to figure out how to make fashion 'happy' forever."

My immediate reaction to that would be to propose they all switch wrists for their watches and squeeze a few lemons. But I wasn't at the meeting. Mr. Norwich reported that Ralph Lauren wasn't there either but sent an aide to declare, "It's a great day, due to the success of the Ralph Lauren stock offering."

Nor did Calvin Klein get there. "You know Calvin," someone said, "when we were planning our trip to Mars, he said he heard Jupiter was cooler."

Donna Karan came. But late. She was running late from the weekly cabala class, run by her dermatologist. So although all those great American designers were missing, Valentino showed up. Last time I looked, Valentino was Italian. Andre Leon Talley, who busies himself doing fashion things of one sort and another, arrived. He is eight feet tall and, said Mr. Norwich, announced he was feeling "very brooches and bracelets." Did he have lemon pips in his hair? I have no information on this, though he long ago worked for Mr. Fairchild and for me.

Karl Lagerfeld also attended. He's German and works for the French and said he needed no lessons in "happy." The reason? He was reading a marvelous book about the late Standard Oil heiress, "Joe" Carstairs, who smoked cigars, dressed as a man, held briefly the world speedboat record, was thrown from a camel in the London zoo in 1905 and knocked senseless, being revived by the application to her head of raw steaks. "Joe was blessed," Karl said, "she never looked back, she never explained. She only wore khaki." And died at 93.

The new fashion mags are now all out with their glowing tributes to poor Versace. I noted the haste with which his deification was going (it takes the Catholic Church 300 years to canonize a holy nun or the leprous, but Gianni seemed to be getting there in about six weeks) and got blasted in letters to the ed. for being a homophobe.

So it was with considerable relief (you know, misery loves company) I read Holly Brubach in The New York Times on the subject of Versace's passing. His murder was "tragic and horrific." But "he legitimized vulgarity" and rendered moot "the issue of whether something is in good taste or in bad taste." And, "by the time of his death, he was more famous for the company he kept than for the clothes he designed."

Andrea Lee, writing in The New Yorker, was even tougher on the dead. She wrote at length of the Versace clan, and its use of his sister's young children in ads (his sister's husband was rumored to have been Gianni's lover before the marriage): "What kind of parents, I wondered, would be happy to use their children's beauty to sell their products?" Adding, "Sometimes, looking at the photographs of the children, one feels repelled."

While up at Bergdorf's, the windows are full of dresses and jewels and photos of the terribly well-dressed and fashionable Duke and Duchess of Windsor, so venal and grasping were they in their later years, as to be known as "Commerce & Industry," since you rented them for a weekend or paid them to come to dinner.

Maybe I'm wrong, I mean about a sitcom. Maybe, for all the chi-chi and laughter,

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