How Can We Not Love Her

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

We don't know if it was the Texas-style "yes, ma'ams" or her self-proclaimed motto ("Eat!"), but post-Claudia Schiffer Guess? girl Anna Nicole Smith is the first Playmate of the Year to win a place in our hearts. Relaxing at her West Hollywood hotel ("They make the best Belgian waffles!"), the voluptuous Smith ticks off recent events in her Fabulous Life: the movie with Paul Newman, the video with Bryan Ferry and now a stint as America's favorite cheesecake.

Being a super model, however, has its down side. For the past two years, for example, Smith hasn't had a boyfriend. "And when I do," she sighs, "they always cheat on me." Little boys, teen-age girls and older women are her most avid fans, but eligible men are reticent.

"I never get approached," she says, clearly mystified. On the subjects of fashion ("I love Escada!") and interior design, though, the little girl lost turns maven. What does she think of the famous Playboy mansion? "If I was Kimberley, I'd modernize that thing!"

Tarnished Sequins: To survive on Seventh Avenue, "you have to keep reinventing yourself. Keep static and you die," says writer Nikki Finke, whose sad, compelling tale of the fall of California Golden Boy designer Bob Mackie appears in the June issue of Vanity Fair.

Finke's revelation that Mackie and partner Ray Aghayan had borrowed money from the Mob has been much discussed in the New York tabloids. To chip away at the debt, Finke writes, Mackie offered his flashy beaded gowns to the women of the Gambino family, outfitting, on one occasion, an entire wedding.

If there's a lesson here, notes the New York-based Finke, it's "how hard it is for Hollywood costumers to be taken seriously by the fashion world."

But Finke also blames Mackie's fall on the company's eccentric habits--psychics, Tarot card readers, astrologers as business advisers. "It was like turning on a late-night infomercial and letting it run your life."

Hanes His Way: Hanes, Fruit of the Loom and other makers of those standard-issue BVDs will be pleased to know they're the pick of funny guy Mike ("Wayne's World") Myers.

Myers revealed his undies of choice last week at the Groundlings Theatre. He started the night wearing jeans and a long-sleeved shirt but ditched them for an improv sketch about a runaway Roman slave called "I Lost My Toga."

The audience went wild when Myers darted on stage wearing white tube socks, T-shirt and briefs. Myers had converted his shirt into a mini-toga by stepping through the sleeves and tucking the waistband into his skivvies.

Move over Marky Mark.

In Living Color: Come September, domestic goddess Martha Stewart will take to the airwaves to show us how to do topiary (you read our minds!), how to take care of our clothes (you saw our closets!) and how to prune our trees (OK, so you don't use an ax).

"It's not a studio show," she says, disdainfully. "We're shooting at various locations . . . we call them 'outings.' "

Stewart also puts the kibosh on the persistent assumption that she does it all. "I'm the cook, the entertainer, the gardener," she acknowledges, but the show, which will air on KNBC here, will track down loads of other folks who've devoted their lives to the domestic arts. Like the father of American topiary or the wardrobe mistress for the "Today" show.

Many of the topics for the syndicated half-hour show were inspired by research for her magazine, Martha Stewart Living. "We're going to inform people as to what's really happening out there."

Ah, Out There, where an uncooperative branch of ivy is the worst thing that could happen. Count us in.

Do Try This at Home: A pattern company that specializes in items such as authentically detailed 19th-Century frontier shirts and Edwardian underthings has found itself on the cutting edge of fashion. Connecticut-based Folkwear Patterns released its Russian Cossack Uniform about the same time Ralph Lauren paraded the look down the runway at last month's fall collections.

"It was pure luck!" says Cheryl Clark, Folkwear marketing manager. "No sooner had we published the pattern than Women's Wear Daily did a cover on 'The Russians Are Coming,' and USA Today did a story on Ralph Lauren's bringing back the Cossack coat."

Last year, the company entered a licensing agreement with the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to make patterns from its collection. The $26 Folkwear pattern, taken from a pre-1913 regimental uniform from St. Petersburg, includes a collarless coat with a long, full skirt, a pair of drawstring trousers, a long undercoat with a standing collar and a cap. (For catalogue, send $3 to Folkwear, Taunton Press, 63 S. Main St., Box 5506, Newtown, Conn. 06470.)

Censored: After a trip to Ross Dress for Less (best buy: navy-and-white-striped sailor tank, $8), we popped in at our local feminist bookstore.

Inside were the usual works about, by and for depressed women, gay women, Jewish women, women of science, letters, the arts. But where were the books on fashion, the one arena in which we've been free to play, toil and, occasionally, make history?

The saleswoman knit her brows and look stumped, then led us to a shelf of what, in her mind, was the logical response to the tyranny of fashion: a shelf full of books about self-destructive eating disorders and the imprisonment of women by Western ideas of beauty. We went home and let Glamour tell us how we could have "A Better Butt, Fast!"

If the Shoe Fits: UC Berkeley centerfold wanna-be Andrew Martinez, who refuses to dress for success, or even at all, complaining to writer Laura Beck in GQ:

"Everyday I hear, 'Oh, look, there's Naked Guy.' I was hoping I'd be called 'Militant Nudist,' but that never caught on."

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