Phyllis Stine’s Faves: ‘Palm Bitch’ and ‘Ghetto Fabulous’

Sept. 14. Dear Diary: C’est moi , Phyllis Stine. C’est moi . It’s nearly two months since I’ve written anything-sooo sorry. Y2K has come early here. I’m totally wiped out. A turmoil of churning nothingness. Flat waves between invisible shores. Help! Someone!

Still am a hullabaloo of unemployment, oy vey . Thank God for alimony and the Carlyle Hotel. Ostensibly, I’ve been listening for Hillary, as you may recall, but I can’t get a handle on what message I can channel for her. All I’m getting for Hillary is, “No denim.” Even if denim is the big thing in fashion right now, I think Hillary should stick to blue skies not blue jeans.

Obviously, it’s fashion week. Am off to a late start as I have just returned from spending Rosh Hashanah in Antwerp, which is in Belgium. Don’t ask. The whole of Europe is riveted to the news from London concerning the revelation in The Times of London on Sept. 11 about an 87-year-old great-grandmother named Melita Norwood who, for like 40 years, was a spy for the K.G.B. I’ve read everything about this woman so far and have decided fashion must be taught to children at a much earlier age. Copies of Vogue should be placed under their mattresses-boys too-so the message of fashion seeps upward. I mean, there was not a drop of pizzazz in Melita Norwood’s childhood, so no wonder she wanted to help Russia build the bomb. The poor thing was starved for dynamic accessories.

For the John Bartlett and Tommy Hilfiger shows I decided to dress “ghetto fabulous,” as Puff Daddy says. Mixed high street with low street. From the bottom up: lavender silk and paillette Prada mule (high street), Diesel jeans (low street), Michael Kors cashmere tank top, and five Bulgari gold necklaces. O.K., six Bulgari gold necklaces.

Mr. Bartlett’s concept was to mix “Che,” as in Che Guevara, and Charo, the singer and onetime wife of Xavier Cugat. “Who?” the foreign princess sitting next to me asked.

Cut to Mr. Hilfiger’s show at Madison Square Garden. Suffice it to say, Tommy did a big production, which included the performance on stage by the rock band Bush while models took the runway. (Cowboy shirts; denim.) The fashionistas did not applaud Bush-which didn’t go over very well with Bush. I applauded. For his hair. When the show was over you could just hear the lead singer of Bush, whose name is Gavin Rossdale, I believe, saying into his microphone, “Fuck you. Fuck you very much. Fuck fashion.” And I responded, “That’s the problem. It’s physically impossible. We’ve all tried.”

Stopped at show of Miguel Adrover-no, he didn’t change his name from Michael Andover-on the Lower East Side. Miguel’s the real McCoy, the trendy designer of the season. His inspiration was a woman living in the South American jungle. (Che? Charo?) Was taken hostage by his razor-etched tops. Then stopped at the party for Kate Betts at Fressen, where I was overcome with mixed feelings-remember I aspired to become the editor in chief of Harper’s Bazaar -but actually my feelings had more to do with the fact that I hadn’t eaten all day.

Back at the Carlyle: three rice cakes with cottage cheese, two Golden Girls reruns, glass of San Pelligrino with Kava Kava drops. Good night, dear diary.

Sept. 15. Played hard to get today. Only went to Michael Kors- j’adored his “Palm Bitch” theme-and Anna Sui. Yesterday’s “Ghetto Fabulous” look replaced by Gucci leather dress and black alligator Manolo Blahnik stilettos. Plus pink shatoosh. Speaking of which, can you believe I’m up on criminal charges for having sold shatooshes to a few friends a couple of years ago? With all due apologies to animal lovers, but I find these charges highly discriminatory. I was only trying to launch a career.

Sept. 16. Midnight. Don’t think a lot is going to happen this fashion week. No big ideas. Women are left to their own devices, but there are worse fates. (Hot pants, for instance.) Meanwhile, can’t help but wonder how the course of my life would have been different if I had worn Bill Blass clothes all these years rather than searching for foreign fashion gods.

Well, the beginning is always a place to start, and today started with my masseuse Melinda announcing at 8 A.M. that she was changing her name from Melinda to Merlinda because she has decided to become a magician.

I said, “Disappear my sore feet.”

Then I called my car service and was informed there were no cars today because of the hurricane. Hurricane? Who knew? I watched TV last night, but no one interrupted the Golden Girls reruns on Lifetime to say there was a hurricane acomin’. Go to my window, open the curtains. Look west toward New Jersey, which I don’t like to do because I firmly believe one should never look back, but there it is like an explosion of skunks: storm and tempest. Turned on TV for weather news. Began to panic. Felt overwhelmed by the prognosis; claustrophobia set in considering chances of being washed away without a car and driver, and I cried. (No big whoop; smudge-proof mascara.)

Knew what to wear: Marni’s sea blue and sea green silk top and wool felt skirt, which already looked splashed with blue and green watercolors like the colors of the day. A Louis Vuitton rubberized logo raincoat. Black Hanro panties and satin-piped, cotton-knit camisole in case I had to bail or swim. Two large gold and pearl bangles, circa 1875, around each wrist to help me float. Gold leather Celine boots with heels.

Outside the sky slathered like wet gray flannel. Perfect day to reconsider cosmetics offerings at Zitomer’s pharmacy-but no. Took a bus down Fifth Avenue. A bus! I took a bus. A packed tin bus. Like sardines swimming downstream. Got off at 42nd Street. Soaked by the time I got to the tents for the Bill Blass show at 11. After 40 years in business, this was his last show. The last show from the man who made American fashion not just respectable but profitable. J’adored so much, especially the spangled skirts and hooded jackets. Compared with a career like Blass’, the hurricane seemed like an accessory.

Then they closed down the tents. Had to get to SoHo for Helmut Lang’s show. Not go to Helmut Lang? Are you crazy? Rather die.

Took the subway. (Let me write that twice, dear diary.) Took the subway. Something called the B train, although I would have preferred the A train because, well, I was dressed for first class. Whatever. The next thing I knew, I was on lower Sixth Avenue. The rain has almost stopped. J’adore the fashion cycle. Felt like I was the twinkle in the eye of the storm then, walking toward Helmut Lang in SoHo where there’s always hope.

Quiz Time

1. What’s “Trippy World”?

a. An on-line service selling travel accessories created by the Boardman sisters, Samantha and Serena.

b. A psychedelia-inspired exhibition at Baron-Boisante Gallery.

c. Name of Leonardo DiCaprio’s new house near Big Sur.

2. Who is the talent behind the much-anticipated fashion Web site http://www.show.uk.com?

a. Alexander McQueen

b. Nick Knight

c. Hussein Chalayan

3. Around what conceit does the plot of Warner Brothers’ The Big Tease revolve?

a. A prom queen (Sarah Michelle Gellar) promises her virginity to the first of four high school football stars who write her the best love poem.

b. Based on Jack and the Beanstalk , it’s about a town called Tease, Ohio, where Robin Williams plays a friendly giant.

c. A hairdressing competition with a cameo appearance by Naomi Campbell.

Answers: (1) b; (2) b; (3) c.