Fashion: Bugles, Bangles & All Woman

"In Italy," says Count Ferdinando Sarmi, "when the oldest son tells his father he wants to be a dress designer, it's like a woman saying she intends to be a prostitute." Sarmi's own father responded by packing his son off to the university in Siena. The result was to make Sarmi, some 30 years later, the only Seventh Avenue designer who holds a doctor of law degree.

Women couldn't care less. To them the important thing about Sarmi is that he turns out some of the world's most elegant evening dresses. "Every woman with $600 to spend," says one...

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