FASHION / STYLE NOTES

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The Independent Culture
ONE MORE sign that we're slowly coming out of the recession is the new clutch of fashion and style magazines showing up on bookstalls and in art book shops and galleries. One of the good ones is Big, an Anglo/Spanish production, now into its seventh issue, and initially put together in time-honoured fashion 'on the kitchen table' by Marcello Junemann, its Spanish editor and publisher. Big is a mixture of photography and fiction, putting new photographers next to old. No 7 has fashion by Steven Meisel, classics by Bert Stern, and stories from New York. Copies from The Photographer's Gallery, Great Newport Street, WC2.

ROMEO GIGLI, the great romantic of fashion design, has announced his intention to liquidate his design, distribution and retail operations. In a printed statement, the meaning of which was as elusive as the designer himself, Gigli (right) announced that he had accepted an offer from a financial group to work as a designer in a 'fully equipped atelier'.

Gigli is no stranger to business upheavals. In 1991, he won a battle to wrest back control of his company from his former partners, Carla Sozzani and Donato Maino. Sozzani now runs nn studio, the coolest fashion store in Milan, from what used to be Romeo Gigli's cavernous shop space. But Gigli isn't disappearing. A spokesman confirmed that his Paris show - scheduled for next Wednesday - will go ahead as planned.

BENETTON's latest attempt to shock with its advertising has failed dismally. The Advertising Standards Authority has so far received a mere three complaints about the billboard and magazine advertisements which feature abstract close- ups of naked bodies branded with the words: 'HIV Positive'.

IT IS BEING tagged as The Great Model Markdown. New York's designers say they have had enough of paying sky-high prices for catwalk stars and they have got together to strike a bargain. They are represented by the 7th on Sixth Corporation, a new body responsible for organising next month's autumn shows in New York, which wants to cut rates to dollars 250 an hour.

That sounds like very little for supermodels who, as Linda Evangelista once said, won't get out of bed for less than dollars 10,000. But it sounds like enough to America's billionaire designers; they point out that Linda, Christy, Kate et al happily work for dollars 200 a day for editorial shoots in US Vogue. Donna Karan and Calvin Klein, among others, are now saying that being cast in their catwalk shows is just as prestigious a job.

So, is the supermodel about to crash to her boney little knees? Not if the model agencies can help it. Joey Hunter, co-president of Ford Models, which represents Christy Turlington, recently told Women's Wear Daily: 'As far as we're concerned, dollars 250 is not a realistic figure.'

Calvin Klein, meanwhile, says: 'What we're trying to do is find a way to work with the agencies, so we can bring some reality back to the world of modelling.'

In Paris, designers like Helmut Lang and Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garcons have already decided not to pay astronomical prices, and are now using 'ordinary people' in their shows, as well as newly-discovered models. The response from press and buyers has been favourable.

The cost of models is one of the greatest expenses for designers putting on a show.

But whether the cutting of models' fees will be reflected in the reduction of prices of garments in the shops remains to be seen.

(Photographs omitted)

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