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Now see this! Hip Donna Karan cuts to the chase Fall Fashion '95


New York -- It's fall fashion week here. You can tell by the falling hemlines -- and the hype. Thousands of buyers, press, video crews and groupies have blown into town to see American designers showing their winter wear. Some of them are wearing the new knee-length, for now.

That could change by the end of the week after they've seen everything from hot pants to father-of-the-bride morning coats masquerading as ballgowns.

Fashion emperatrix Donna Karan cut the cutaway into everything from hip men's jackets to sweeping evening gowns for her DKNY show, which opened the week of fashion frenzy. Other designers showed earlier, but her hipness is the one who starts things rolling. Hers was a mad mod presentation with midnight cowpokes in gilded fringed leather, velvet rocker suits, leopard coats, and ballgowns in shiny menswear stripes with those bustles. The show was mostly black, the only color New Yorkers seem to recognize.

Along with the fuss about frocks was buzz about Michael Gross' new book "Model: The Ugly Business of Beautiful Women."

The senior writer for Esquire magazine, who has contributed to virtually every prestigious periodical of style, tapped his insider resources to expose the stink of drugs, sex and exploitation that clings to the modeling buiness like stale perfume.

Releasing the book to coincide with the collections was a coup. No one relishes good dish like the fashion pack. Now they're drooling for an invitation to the opening party of Fashion Cafe, a new venture for supermodels Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer and Elle MacPherson.

A number of unexpected players have jumped on the glamour wagon this season and have signed on as fashion sponsors, a boon to smaller and newer designers. Traditionally, patrons have been cosmetics and perfume bottlers, but this season, Johnnie Walker Black Label, Dewar's Scotch and Absolut Vodka underwrote three small shows in Greenwich Village.

Midtown, in big tents where the top designers are showing their fashion fantasies, Buick grants a scholarship, GM offers courtesy cars and drivers and Evian keeps cold boxes stocked with bottled water.

It's a label-conscious milieu.

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