Runways ablaze with star power Fashion shows: It may be about clothes, but it's the celebrities that put the show in motion.


NEW YORK -- Who needs superstars? The fashion pack does. That cynical and fickle crowd went as wild as kids on too much Halloween candy when the spots hit Cindy, Linda, Naomi, Shalom and Amber in a tableau that opened Todd Oldham's glamslam show of glitter, sex and '70s style. The excitement didn't let up.

Fashion watchers who have been predicting the death of the cult RTC of supermodels may be premature in tolling the bell. These girls may be overpriced and overexposed but until a new crop learns how to work bits of lace the way Naomi does, the fashion industry needs them.

Celebrities, too, are an essential ingredient. Pre-show at Oldham there was much gawking and pushing to check out Susan Sarandon's new short curls and tiger- print topper and Julia Roberts' blouse in color-of-the moment chartreuse. Tim Robbins and Matt Dillon were there, too.

For star appeal, Nicole Miller cast her runway with rising young stars like Jill Hennesy of NBC's "Law & Order," Rebecca Gayheart of "Beverly Hills 90210," Minnie Driver, who made a name in "Circle of Friends," and other young and rising. The good-looking actresses did fine at playing model, but they were all shy of those extra inches of tall that make a top clotheshorse. Reality doesn't work on the runway.

Ms. Miller, taking her bows and visibly pregnant, may be taking her grown-up state too seriously. She showed good wearable clothes, but the fun and ditzy girlish prints which have been her trademark were missed.

Betsey Johnson, the world's oldest flower child, has grown up, too. Her show was a treat for the mature editors and buyers whose nerve endings have been nearly paralyzed by the throb of house music.

The audience got champagne and a soundtrack of old Henry Mancini favorites. The clothes were '50s replays, but they worked in a Marilyn sort of way.

Betsey's cartwheels into a flying split are a tradition at her show. She did the cartwheel, but left out the split.

We said grown up, not doddering.

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