Designing womanAn appreciation of beautiful clothing and...


Designing woman

An appreciation of beautiful clothing and a love of theater has led Gail Cooper Hecht, who grew up in Pikesville, to stages all over the world -- first as an actress and now as a costume designer.

The Manhattan resident's creations can be seen at Center Stagthrough June 16 in "Those were the Days," an English-Yiddish musical revue that was on Broadway from October to March.

The daughter of artist Henry Cooper, who for years also was thcantor at Har Sinai Congregation on Park Heights Avenue, Ms. Hecht graduated from Western High, then Boston University with a degree in acting and a minor in costume design. She acted in productions such as "Mame" in places from Johannesburg, South Africa, to New York, then turned to design 12 years ago.

Since then, her creations have been nominated for two Emmy awards (one for "Pearly" with Robert Guillaume). Recently, however, Ms. Hecht's designs have been primarily for productions about Jews or Russia. "It just happened," she says. "I don't know why, if it wasn't Russian or Jewish, I didn't do it."

H.S. This may be the chance of her lifetime: Monica Brunson, an interviewer for the Baltimore Housing Authority, won the Just Us Plus Model Search competition that was held June 2 at Stouffers Hotel.

Forty-two women between ages 18 to 50 competed in the talent search sponsored by August Max Woman and held by Just Us Plus, a Baltimore full-figure modeling agency.

The 23-year-old Ms. Brunson -- she's chosen "Marja" as heprofessional name "because it sounded glamorous" -- won a portfolio, a gift basket from Mary Kay cosmetics and best of all -- a modeling contract for 10 fashion shows throughout the nation. Two other Baltimoreans tied for first runner-up: Terry Townes and Cindy Baylus.

H.S. The Body Shop will open its second area store at Harborplace tomorrow. (There's already a store at White Marsh Mall.) The stores sells beauty products for men and women that aren't tested on animals and also offers cosmetics in minimal packaging and a refill service.


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