As the curtain fell on Italian designer Gianni Versace's spring ready-to-wear shows in Milan, he was packing his bags for California. He will attend the opening Sunday night of the San Francisco Opera production of "Capriccio," for which he did the costumes. He's scheduled to roll into L.A. early next week to talk to famed fashion lens man Herb Ritts about an advertising campaign. And his itinerary holders tell Listen that Versace also plans to chat up artist David Hockney while rounding out his fine arts swing down the West Coast.
TRIPLE TREAT: Designer Bill Blass was in Los Angeles this week to introduce a trio of new fragrances: Basic Black, Nude and Hot. "I feel strongly women don't want to wear just one fragrance anymore. You can't do two, because that makes it either-or. But if you do three, there is a choice," the robust designer explained during a luncheon and fashion show at Bistro Garden. After working for two years on the project, he has firm ideas about the application of his scents, priced from $35 for the body lotion to $85 for the perfume: "They're not to be layered. They're to be worn separately. Nude is the most personal and, in my opinion, the freshest. Black is the most sophisticated, and Hot is the most aggressive." After lunch, Blass and his fans gathered at I. Magnin in Beverly Hills to get personal and aggressive with his fresh resort collection.
PRECIOUS ADVICE: There will be major wheeling and dealing in New York Tuesday when Christie's holds its "Magnificent Jewels" auction. But if you are a first-time bidder, Patrizia Ferenczi, a Christie's vice president and one of the few female auctioneers in the world, advises that you only look. Don't do anything that could make you the new owner of something like the late Barbara Stanwyck's diamond flower brooch, valued between $9,000 and $11,000. "Even if you think it's the most beautiful thing in the world, get the feel first and understand what an auction is all about," she says. When you finally do take the plunge, "set a limit. Ask yourself, 'How much am I willing to pay?' And buy jewelry to enjoy and wear, not to keep in a vault."
DESIGNER MINIATURES: Fed up with the price of designer clothes? It's a little known fact that you can get a Bob Mackie bias cut gown with gold sequins for $120 and a limited-edition Arnold Scaasi tulle ball gown for $395. The hitch? They're doll size. Mackie dressed a special edition Barbie for Mattel this year. He agreed to do the dress because, "Barbie is an American icon. She's America's No. 1 sweetheart." The doll's Madonna-like, Blond Ambition-tour ponytail is a coincidence. "It was done way before Madonna adopted the look." The Scaasi doll, named Cissy and made by Madame Alexander, is available only at F.A.O. Schwarz. The prices, by the way, include the dolls.
GET IT WHOLESALE: The publishers of a new directory, "Garment District, Los Angeles," aim to make things easier for shoppers in downtown's maze of wholesalers--and to help fight cystic fibrosis. The directory contains 650 listings, cross-referenced by store name and merchandise category, plus freeway, area and block maps detailing the locations of parking, restaurants and, thoughtfully, automated teller machines. PBG Publications will donate $3.50 of the $10 price (plus $1.25 for postage) through Nov. 15 to cystic fibrosis research programs. To order, call 1-800-CF-CURE1 during business hours.