Modern Living: Rags for the Richest

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In Rome, Christina Ford and Actor Helmut Berger were among those who turned up at Valentino's salon, newly decorated with mirrored ceilings. Presumably resigned to the realities of urban smog, the designer has given up on white for coats, showing tones that range from golden beige ("oat") through bottle green. Those without fur collars were finished off with a fringed wool challis square folded in a triangle around the neck. Valentino's most famous client, Mrs. Jacqueline Onassis, visited Rome before the collection had been completed for preview; she ordered some clothes from drawings and will see the full embodiment next month in New York.

"The collections in Paris were the purest couture I've seen in years," notes Ohrbach's Sydney Gittler. "The workmanship is so perfect that I'll have difficulty having it done in the U.S." Still smarting from their unhappy attempts to meld high fashion with ready-to-wear, designers seemed completely unbothered by the prospect of greater exclusivity. "We have models here with thick necks or broad hips or short legs," says Esparza. "I hide these faults with my clothes. That is couture, and that is why ready-to-wear can never take its place." As for the noncouture masses, let them wear denim.

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