AT LEAST SOME OF THE PROPS—cameras, crowds and reporters—were present and accounted for during Manhattan’s just-wrapped Fashion Week, but this time around it was ennui, not electricity, in the air, as the traditional hordes of high-wattage celebs and supermodels largely shunned the semiannual display of Seventh Avenue’s collections. “The tents [in which the shows are held] were kept up by the hot air being generated,” says industry observer Alan Millstein, “more than the reality of the situation.”
Not that the event didn’t have a few bright moments. A newly platinum-coiffed Marisa Tomei turned up at Calvin Klein. The entertainer sometimes known as Prince held court at the Isaac Mizrahi show, while Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and Isabella Rossellini hammed it up on Betsey Johnson’s catwalk. Still, the shortage of supermodels, for whom the up to $15,000-a-show paycheck can be mere mascara money, was obvious. Naomi Campbell and Linda Evangelista walked in only a handful of shows, Kate Moss in just one. Missing altogether were Claudia Schiffer (busy in town opening the Fashion Cafe with Campbell and Elle Macpherson) and Cindy Crawford (busy shooting her first movie, Fair Game). Even Bridget Hall, 17, who strutted exclusively for Ralph Lauren as part of her reported $2 million contract, had her mind on other things. “I’m focused on acting classes,” she said. “And I want to get into abstract painting.”
Maybe the supermodels could tell there would be little to get excited about. The designers—tempered perhaps by 1994’s sluggish sales—opted for buyer-friendly conservative styles. Ralph Lauren showed pinstriped suits and sequined gowns; Mizrahi made his fashion statement with red velvet riding jackets and camel coats. The most daring looks came in the form of western wear from Johnson and Nicole Miller and ’60s-style mod fashions by Marc Jacobs and Anna Sui.
But by the end, the overriding trend was fatigue. “The shows aren’t the real world,” said rocker Johnny Ramone, who cheered on Sui, a friend. “I wouldn’t want to make a habit of coming to these things.” Model Tatiana Patitz, who pouted and posed in the shows, seconded that emotion. Her favorite part of the week? “The end of it.”