Swelter

Summer, the cruelest and definitely nontrendiest season, the fashionable world still plowing along heedlessly, cranking out low-grade fabulousness. A surrealistic beginning to a whirlwind of cut-rate glamour with the United States launch of a new fragrance, SalvadorDali's "Laguna," a joint effort by Salvador Dali Parfums of Paris and Fine Fragrances Inc. of Miami. Dali the hardest-working dead artist in the business, three fragrances along and still hustling. His Weirdness no doubt snickering in Heaven, happy to see the essential elements of fashionland alive and well: hype and hucksterism, maudlin emotion, mad lunges at the frenzy of renown, true beauty.

The setting, the Starlight Roof of the Doral Ocean Beach Resort, perfectly glamorous in a campy sort of way. A constellation of lights on the ceiling beaming off into the darkness. The restaurant adjacent to the ballroom, Alfredo's the original of Rome, accented with a mural depicting Columbus's quest for the New World and publicity photos of the late Alfredo di Lelio in the merry old Roma days, posing with Frank Sinatra, Joan Crawford, and Ronald Reagan. Downstairs an ocean of gold gilt, marble, chandeliers, gothic arches, and an homage-to-the-Sistine-Chapel fresco. Kind of a cross between Grandma's house and the Palace of Versailles. The party itself just one big theme riot. Gift packages with assorted trinkets and the Dali-designed perfume bottle, a tortured aqua face with a Gibson Girl kiss. Laguna umbrellas. An aqua cake, unsettling blue-green punch, product displays everywhere. In the decorative-but-functional category, Mareva George, Miss France 1991 (gorgeous, deeply tanned, legs unshaven in the Continental manner) and Nini Beth Leal, Miss World 1992, lending a little glitz firepower.

Plenty of buffet food, free liquor, and press on hand: the ever-amiable Mauricio Zeilic of Univision interviewing the frozen-smile beauty queens; a stunning, obviously well-heeled newscaster from Telemundo inspiring megaregrets, once again, about our choice of mediums. The beauties -- continually fussed over by attendants bearing tissues and flattery -- prancing out like temperamental racehorses for a good, long promotional wallow, inspiring a parade of Dear-God-if-I-can't-be-loved-let-me-at-least-be-photographed entrances by the less celebrated. Jean Pierre Grivory of Salvador Dali Parfums, working that Julio Iglesias theme with dark sunglasses and manicured hair, taking the stage: "This is an industry but an art, too. Smell is the sense that meant immortality to Dali. The two big moments in my short career have been meeting such a great artist and, of course, Miss World and Miss France -- they have an inner beauty, too."

Miami Beach City Commissioner Sy Eisenberg proclaiming July 26 "Salvador Dali Laguna Day," the spectacle coming to an emotional close with Rafael Kravec of Fine Fragrances: "This is a great night for Miami Beach. When I came to this country 32 years ago from Cuba, I sold flowers on the street. It has touched me to be able to succeed in this city. It goes beyond knowing the commissioner or the mayor." The band launching into a rock medley, and it's on to more dancing, more cheek kissing, more diversions.

Dinner at Brasserie Le Coze, a carnival of stylishness and cholesterol, with Ty Bassett and SusanAinsworth, Melissa Gottlieb Sardinia of Gianni Versace, and the ultra-chic Maguy Le Coze: "Everybody is coming down here now. A friend of mine from New York wants to open a club in the Grove. Now I only have to go to New York once a month or so to get my hair cut. Celebrities we've had here? Oh no, they should remain private." A woman of sense and sensibility, who apparently hasn't been in Miami long enough to lose all semblance of social standards.

Over to Alton Road for a gratifyingly lavish cocktail party at the beyond-charming, Spanish-style home of Hunter Johnston, creative director for the menswear division of Bill Blass. The full-tilt Epicure spread of shrimp and pate. Artist Kenny Scharf and antique jewelry dealer Gregory David Coster in attendance, along with a constant stream of the young and exquisite, leaving a trail of lust and a why-did-they-invite-a-schlub-like-me unease in their wake. Taking the warm memories of real people with actual jobs back down to South Beach, chicville-on-a-budget. Gossip, attitude, encounters here and there with the legion who will one day usher in the apocalypse.

No apocalyptic visions, happily enough, coming up during a couple of one-nighters at Egoiste. "The Milk Bar" on Sunday, unusual global music by disc jockey Emilio San Pedro, streams of white chiffon and Mardi gras-esque artwork, a swing on the stage and goofy reworkings of cheap Indian movies. Co-promoters Jeannine Diego and Mario Marini pleasantly hosting, fashionable world florist Israel Sands of Flowers & Flowers turning up out of nowhere. A gentle prompt, then Sands reeling off a mixed array of A-clients: Gianni Versace, the Bee Gees, Hunter Johnston, and, somewhat further down the list, Lauren Hutton.

The fiendishly chic noticeably absent at "Mayday" Thursday night, an entertaining mix of whistle blowing, technoheads sucking ice pops, psychedelic video projections, and haranguing disc jockeys: "It's the hard-core stuff -- let's get fucking mental!" A plush club for a rave, but it all sort of comes together, especially given the limited options for the techno crowd. Co-promoter Doug Scott working on another Homestead rave with the Rave Doctors and the second installment of "Planet Mars" on August 8, in the empty penthouse office suite at 605 Lincoln Road: "It's really in keeping with the rave atmosphere, a warehouse-style loft. You can get 2000 people up there." As the flyer goes, an event beyond sanity.

Sort of like the Sixties-theme birthday party for Erinn Cosby at 8 1/2 Otto Mezzo. Cosby, outlandish in sausage curls and a black jumpsuit, bouncing around the odds and ends of what constitutes South Beach society: hairdressers, the get-a-grip contingent, and Tara Solomon, back from a tour of Greece with mystery beau. Host Norma Jean Abraham of Details, DetailsInc. putting out some clever table arrangements, a nod to her background in charity affairs. Gary James heading off to Europe. George Nunez of Warsaw fighting the good fight, the battle with Paragon now reportedly escalating to the point of Warsaw ads being torn out of David magazine. Midway through the party a faux cop showing up to arrest Erinn. This being downtown, lots of guilty faces around the table, until the cop/hired stripper begins peeling off his clothes and dancing about. Just another sex theme show. From there, things winding down to the fashion-hangover stage, Verlaine's summation of the ceaseless whirl: "All is drunk. All is eaten. There is no more." Until, of course, the next party.

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