Sunday, March 23, 2008


IT was a battle of the tabloid blonds when Lauren Conrad and Nicky Hilton hit the runway at Smashbox Studios to present their fall collections. The reality show starlet (Conrad) and the designing hotel heiress (that would be Hilton) were top billed on the same night at L.A. Fashion Week. The venue was buzzing with anticipation.It was Conrad's first time showing, and it was obvious in her nervous demeanor. She was running around lugging garment bags through the backstage entrance and making rounds checking on hair and makeup stations, tending to every detail -- all while wearing a strapless minidress from her line and a pair of spiky Louboutins.

The heiress and the reality starConrad wanted so much for the show to be perfect that when a model kicked off her shoes on the runway, she became distraught backstage. (Were those real tears?) Yet Conrad still expressed interest in showing next season. "I would love to do another show even though it's really stressful," she said.The berets, peacock feather headbands and pert leather gloves brought a '40s old Hollywood vibe to the all-cotton jersey collection she designed with Sherry Wood, formerly of the jersey-heavy line Tart.
Conrad said the styling was intended to be "very Parisian," inspired by a recent trip to the City of Light. We're sure to learn all about that trip when the new season of “The Hills” starts Monday night on MTV.A gang of the usual reality show suspects filled the front row to see Conrad's show, including Whitney Port and Audrina Patridge, old flame Brody Jenner and
Kristen Cavallari, whose fame Conrad's has eclipsed since their days down in “Laguna Beach.”The one person missing was Heidi Montag, with whom Conrad has been publicly feuding. Maybe Montag was off filming another homemade music video on a public beach or overseeing the final details of her own fashion venture. She announced that her new Heidiwood line would debut at Anchor Blue stores April 15.Something to save those tax refunds for.Later in the evening, Hilton showed her Nicholai collection of equestrian-inspired pieces with an S&M spin.
Think patent leather motorcycle jackets, houndstooth pencil skirts and vinyl leggings, styled with jaunty riding caps and whips -- a tired trope since Steven Klein photographed Madonna in it two years ago. But Hilton's fans and family still seemed to enjoy it, even though the real show was sister Paris and her current flame, Benji Madden, canoodling for cameras in the front row."This is the only show I come to in L.A.," said Paris, who was curiously sporting a blingy "BM" on her ring finger while Madden wore a matching "PH" on his. That's commitment for a girl who changes guys as often as she changes handbags.So which blond came out on top?
Overall, Conrad seemed to genuinely revel in the moment, while Hilton did a quick on and off the runway -- a sort of, "OK, I have to get to Tokyo now." Conrad also gave a lot more face time to photogs and fans; Hilton barely flashed her dimples.But wait! Hilton climbs back on top for best collection. Though it was far from inspirational, her line was at least a little imaginative.As for the crowd, both blonds' shows drew a Studio 54-like frenzy at the doors. Throngs of fans and paparazzi crammed into the small venue where "The Hills" star held her show. There were so many long lenses trying to get shots of Conrad's posse that one editor repeatedly got knocked in the head by a shutterbug who would stop at nothing to snap pictures of Port and Patridge.The two shows could have been any late-night velvet rope exit from Villa. The clothes were secondary, the blonds were the main event. We have a winner, by a teardrop.

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