- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 11, 2004

I f the tall guy in the worn DKNY jeans, vintage tuxedo jacket and Bahamas T-shirt was aiming to make a statement at Etro’s March 4 fashion show, he certainly succeeded. Alors, even a chic older Frenchwoman was impressed.

“So cute, and such style. He must be European.” said Lysbeth Sherman, who seemed rather startled to hear the young fellow was an American.

As it turned out, Westchester County, N.Y., native Scott Rudin had scant competition in the panache department from fellow guests — regardless of passport — sipping cocktails before the show at the Four Seasons Hotel.

“These people are waaaay too dull, man,” the George Washington University freshman said as he surveyed the mostly buttoned-down, after-work crowd at the benefit for Children’s National Medical Center’s facilities in Washington and Padua, Italy.

“It’s a bit sober tonight,” agreed Italian Cultural Institute staffer Ferruccio Magnatelli, who didn’t mind pointing out the subtle mix of black, blue, green and violet stripes on his own snugly-fitted Etro suit (which he wore to work that day).

Soon it was time to forget people-watching and watch the models hit the runway during the show produced by ELSE, the Georgetown shop where Etro’s lines are sold.

Lights went down, techno music throbbed, and out the models came in Italian brother-and-sister team Kean and Veronica Etro’s latest creations for spring and summer: an explosion of vibrant stripes, prints, paisleys and plaids for both men and women.

Lots of layering for the ladies: a dynamic combination of ruffled skirts, flowing gowns and pajama pants worn with separates (shirts, jackets, sashes, boleros), many in vivid floral patterns, that updated a Ganges-to-Guadalajara ethnic look.

Fabrics were much the same for men: a rainbow patchwork of colors for Tropicana-style shirts and trousers, the latter worn rolled above the ankle, clam-digger style.

“I wouldn’t wear them here, but I might in St. Barts,” admitted Rodrigo Garcia, 32, who reported that his mother, Marlene Cooke, Jack Kent Cooke’s widow, is living in London.

Etro’s look was flashy, but not too over-the-top for Washington, according to ELSE’s Mark Elliott, who is marketing the line to “K Street types who wear Brooks Brothers to work but like to dress up on weekends.”

Anthony Lanier, who spearheads high-end commercial property development in Georgetown, wasn’t planning on ordering the entire men’s collection anytime soon but credited ELSE owner Pierre Lupesco for “stepping out on the edge.”

Mr. Lupesco’s boutique is just one of the upscale fashion emporiums that have sprouted up recently along Wisconsin Avenue and M Street NW. Kate Spade (accessories) and Nathalie de Wolfe (couture dresses) both opened shops before Christmas. Relish (featuring Dries van Noten, Paul Smith and Lobb among other top lines) and Lauren Mason’s Wink (hip young designers for women) are both scheduled to open later this month.

Kevin Chaffee

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