Forget About Fashion Week! Here Are 15 Autumn Must Buys

Everybody clench! Spring 2002 Fashion Week is here, and the

mode-obsessed media is shoving the spring trends into your every orifice with

unprecedented ferocity. How rude! And how irrelevant to you, the ordinary woman on the street.

After all, you won’t be able to buy the stuff for another four or five months,

so why do you need to see it endlessly dissected on TV and in print? You should

be focusing on this season. You know what I’m talking about … all that fall

stuff that has been endlessly over-hyped for the last six months and arrived in

the stores in June.

Let’s face it, girls, this season’s merch-the schmattas that

are actually hanging on the racks right now-are, thanks to the craven,

accelerated fashion system, already looking like ancient history. Sauvage , equestrian, military: Even to

people like you, the ordinary woman on the street (OWOTS), these over-heralded

trends seem as if they’ve come and gone without ever actually existing!

But you can’t not buy anything! So

let’s cut through the miasma of bull and figure out exactly what you need from

this fall’s offerings. Start by treating New York like your own personal flea

market-i.e., forget about labels and simply root around for well-priced,

non-victimy stuff, and do your best to create an individual look. With this

approach in mind, here are my 15 must-haves for fall 2001:

1. The belt. This is the season of the Jim Morrison handcrafted rocker

belt-or, rather, the second season of the overpriced Jim Morrison handcrafted

rocker belt. I’m down with this trend, but under no circumstances

should you cough up more than 50 bucks for a belt. If you can’t find one at the

26th Street flea market,

the Gap has a fab selection, including a very heavy-metal Courrèges-style

off-white number with oversized grommets ($32).

2. The Balenciaga

purse. It’s hard to open a magazine without Balenciaga designer Nicholas

Ghesquière’s gypsyish countenance smoldering back at you, or without being

stared down by a chick in one of his intensely worked, obscenely expensive

garments ($3,800 for a top). Compared to his clothing designs, Nicholas’

gothic-rocker purses are verging on remotely affordable, which is just as well

since they just happen to be the bag of

the season . The “Retro” style ($935) in pebbled caribou is my fave. Don’t

freak if they’re sold out at Barneys, Linda Dresner or Kirna Zabek: As I write,

more caribou is being pebbled and three more bag shipments are expected before

Thanksgiving.

3. The boots.

This fall, every chick in Manhattan

is going to be booted up in black, kinky high-heeled boots. Look for something

different. Tips: Flat-heeled riding boots are not flattering; the over-hyped boot trend won’t last forever, so don’t spend a

fortune; get your boots taken in so they are tight. My pick: Ferragamo’s

beige-suede, high-heeled, musketeerish boots with buckles ($610). Don’t worry

about them getting dirty; wear them to death and then chuck them out in the

spring.

4. The hospitable gay

couple. If you’re a politician who’s not particularly welcome chez vous , then your must-have for fall

2001 is a hospitable ( i.e., rich) gay couple. Didn’t you read Frank Rich’s New York Times Op-Ed piece about Rudolph

Giuliani and his “doting hosts,” Howard Koeppel, a gay 64-year-old Queens

car dealer, and his partner, Mark Hsaio, a 41-year-old who works at the city’s

Department of Cultural Affairs? While he sorts himself out, our Mayor has been

“a frequent sleepover guest” at the sprawling East 50’s apartment of these two

upscale queens. Bill’s been at it as well. This summer, while in London,

ex-President Clinton crashed at the Holland

Park manse of Elton John and his

consort, David Furnish. Quel fromage !

5. The cape. The

most gorgeous one comes from Fendi. It’s knee-length, nursey-but-luxe and

$1,500; see this month’s Harper’s Bazaar

(page 339). This chic cape will make you look less ordinary on the street and

therefore is your most important purchase. If money is tight, skip the Balenciaga

purse, but get this cape. It’s not available until November, so you have six

weeks to raise the cash.

6. The cobble-plaid

duster. The bargain of the season, by Mossimo for Target

($29.95 at Target.com). It’s not really winterized, but can be worn

under your Fendi cape.

7. The fur hat.

Buy one that’s already dead, as in vintage. Cameron Silver of Decades in L.A.

is offering, through Barneys, a major collection of vintage Yves St. Laurent

ready-to-wear and accessories formerly owned

by a certain longtime, now deceased Y.S.L. Rive Gauche directrice named

MadameMarie-Madeleinede Neuville. Included in this comprehensive collection is

a Czarina raccoon hat ($600). Call 826-8900 and put

dibs on it today.

8. The book.

Creep yourself out with The Selected

Stories of Patricia Highsmith (W.W. Norton & Company, $27.95, or $19.56

on Amazon.com). This gorgeously malevolent collection (over 60) includes one of

my personal faves, “The Button.” This heinous story is about the accumulated

rage of a parent with a disabled child who finds an outlet by murdering a

complete stranger, from whose garment he yanks the eponymous button.

9. The sweaters.

You need two: a cashmere Laverne &

Shirley sweater with your initial

intarsia’d into it, from the Barneys New York Collection, and a fantastically

groovy Julie-Christie-in- Darling Aran

sweater, hand-knitted on the Isle of Aran to your chest size. (Call

011441770-302137.) Perfect under the cape, or under the

duster under the cape.

10. The jumbo-pearl

cocktail ring. M + J Savitt’s silver ping-pong-sized faux-pearl cocktail

ring ($340 at Goodman) completes your look-i.e., the cape, the fur hat, the

buckle boots; it’s a look that says bonjour !

Apropos of pearls: Designer Janis Savitt has a Jackie Collins–y tip for you: “I

was having dinner with some guy at Le Bernardin. I had this scheme to get him

to buy me a piece of jewelry. I sent a pearl over ahead of time to the kitchen.

We ordered oysters-the pearl was inside. It worked. He found it and felt so

clever, he had it made into a necklace. It was a small pearl. I didn’t want him

to crack his teeth.”

11. The trompe l’oeil trend. Moschino and

Cacharel did great trompe stuff for

fall-as in great for fashion editorials only. My fave option: trompe your bloke in the privacy of your

boudoir with Anna Sui’s Pop-Victorian corset-printed camisole ($75) and

knickers ($40) (113 Greene Street,

941-8406). Encourage role-playing: put your bloke in goofy trompe T-shirts. Log onto http://www.tshirtguy.com and choose from the

police officer, the classic tux-with-red-rose T-shirt, the photographer, the

doctor, the businessman and the hairy chest ($16 each).

12. The drug. Are

you suffering from PMDD? No, it’s not a rap

collaboration between P. Diddy and P.M. Dawn! PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric

disorder) is the American Psychiatric Association’s new term for PMS, and they

have it classified as a mental disorder! If your menstrual cycle is turning you

into Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction ,

ask your doctor about Sarafem, the new PMDD drug from Eli Lilly. Caution:

Sarafem is repackaged Prozac. If you’re already on it, you may have to switch

your anti-d’s. 

13. The jeans.

The avalanche of trendy denim continues, but which is the really groovy jean? I

audited some of the great thinkers of our time-i.e., second-string fashion

editors-and they all concurred: Seven Jeans are still the ne plus ultra of

grooviness ($99 to $117 at Intermix, Scoop and Barneys Co-op).

14. The cap.

Gamine corduroy caps from Old Navy kids ($8.50) in sienna, fishing green and

dirty navy. Wear with the cape, the Seven Jeans and unkempt hair.

15. The  face. The look for fall 2001? Keep your face exquisitely clean

and, for God’s sake, get yourself a pair of false eyelashes. It’s an

authoritative ingénue look that will afford you an entirely fresh worldview.

Pop into Pat Field’s (10 East Eighth Street)

and get one of the “girls” to instruct you on application thereof. Not the

drag-queen lashes! Ask for the New Look No. 320 ($7). Re lips: The collagen

thing is over ; normal lips are back . If yours are insanely thin, you

might want to try the new “volumizing” lipsticks from Molton Brown in Naked,

Nude and Naughty($20from Barneys).The good people at M.B. claim, audaciously,

that if used three times perdayfor30 days, their product will pump up to 40 percent

more volume into your lips. Now pucker up and start shopping.

P.S.: Sick of watching spring runway shows on the telly? The

New York Renaissance Faire is, coincidentally, in tandem with Fashion Week,

going full-throttle through Sunday, Sept. 16. (Call 845-351-5174 for info or

check out http://www.renfair.com.) Throw on your buckle boots and hightail it up to

Tuxedo, N.Y., for the concluding high jinks.