Fashion: The Mad Three Weeks

Into New York's Kennedy International Airport last week flew a precious cargo—the new fall and winter styles from Paris. There to receive them were the representatives of the two New York department stores that market high-quality but inexpensive copies of European couture fashions. The arrival marked the start of one of the most hectic competitions in all of American retailing—the race to get bulging cartons of Givenchys, Cardins, St. Laurents, Diors and Balenciagas unpacked and into the hands of cutters and tailors for public showings only three weeks away.

Invitations were already out from the rival stores, Alexander's and Ohrbach's,...

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