- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 24, 2004

Champagne was the drink of choice Tuesday at Nordstrom’s “Designer Preview 2004” at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium, but an elegant black-and-red teacup in a shiny black box was in the gift bag given to 300 paying guests who came to view fall fashions and place orders for their favorites on behalf of charity.

Of course, it might be because fashion illustrator Ruben Toledo’s signature was on the cup, which profiled ladies’ legs in motion.

The evening’s theme was carried out to a fare-thee-well, with imaginative decor and sumptuous food tables mirroring the colors and drama of much of the clothing on the runway. Say Dolce & Gabbana, and think gateau glace or any other red-pink-white, chocolate or meringue dessert creation — plus more sparkling wine as well as iced passion-fruit cordials — to greet patrons after the show.

Selected pieces from the fall-winter collections of Celine, Missoni, Valentino, Michael Kors, Christian LaCroix, Donna Karan, Ralph Lauren Purple Label, Carmen Marc Valvo, Dolce & Gabbana and Blue Marine were shown under bright lights on 27 fast-stepping tall, thin models while disco music blasted through the hall.

There were sexy fur boas and shrugs, slinky satin gowns, body-hugging cashmere dresses, and sequin miniskirts to dazzle the eye and tease the crowd. High heels, low heels, boots, knee socks and colored stockings went along with flowing locks and beehive hairdos. Polite applause rather than whoops of delight greeted each segment.

Maybe the audience was experiencing sensory overload.

“I don’t dare have even one of these hors d’oeuvres, or I’ll go up another size,” a comely patron was overheard telling a friend during the cocktail hour.

Such a dilemma didn’t worry any of the men present. (No men’s clothing was shown.) Will Soza of McLean wore a pink wool Bill Blass jacket to accompany his wife Susan. “She buys my clothes,” he confessed, seemingly undisturbed by couture prices as high as $4,000 and beyond. Lower-priced ready-to-wear samples also were available on racks for perusal and try-on. (Gowns proved to be among the most popular buys.)

Rightly called a soiree, the event was the first of nine that the Seattle-based specialty store is holding across the country in conjunction with various local charities. Proceeds for the Washington evening, estimated at $26,000, went to CharityWorks and its current partner, See Forever, which operates the Maya Angelou Public Charter School.

Ann Geracimos

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