HIGH ON A HILL: Even with all the recent examination of the late fashion icon Nan Kempner, there's one aspect of her life that's a bit fuzzy: whether she truly considered herself a New Yorker, instead of hailing from her native San Francisco, which she left at age 21 for the Big Apple. At the opening last week of "Nan Kempner: American Chic" at San Francisco's de Young Fine Arts Museum, some light on her hometown allegiance was shed by Harold Koda, head curator of the Metropolitan Museum's Costume Institute in New York, where the exhibit of her couture collecting originated. Before Kempner died two years ago, she had given the de Young 54 couture pieces and the Met only a half-dozen. "She was giving the first right of refusal to the de Young, not the Met," Koda said during a preview of the exhibit. Being from the City by the Bay also informed Kempner's fashion sense, Koda said. "Her Francophile love is really San Francisco. It is very different than Los Angeles," he observed. As for fans of Kempner's couture — she collected more than 5,000 pieces — the de Young's exhibit of 75 pieces has 25 outfits not shown at the Met, like a stunning Valentino marigold yellow and burgundy silk velvet dinner jacket with beaded embroidery, sable trim, citrine rhinestones and gold fringe.
A DRESSING DOWN: The dress craze storms on, but Bud Konheim sees it as old hat. Before Nicole Miller's first resort fashion show Wednesday, Konheim said, "Everyone is acting like the dress is some new thing." Miller has been doing them throughout her 25 years in business, he noted. In fact, after decades of dresses dominating the fashion scene, it was civil rights leader Ralph Abernathy who had more to do with reversing the trend than anyone else. "After Martin Luther King was killed, he had people marching in the streets and then it became OK to wear jeans and sportswear," Konheim said.
ROCHA ON DOVER: John Rocha plans to open a store in a former pub at 15a Dover Street in London in September. The 2,200-square-foot corner store, near Dover Street Market, will cover three floors and preserve the pub's original stained glass windows. It will carry women's and men's wear, accessories, jewelry and the crystal collection that Rocha designs for Waterford. It will also stock a selection of the designer's favorite modern art books. Rocha's last store, in London's Brompton Cross, closed about eight years ago.