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The Friends collection, and more . . .

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Made for Television

Even viewers bitter about their Rachel shags that took forever to grow out may still sneak a surreptitious weekly peek at the six Friends' wardrobes -- which, in the hands of costume designer Debra McGuire, act as a sort of trendometer for the country. Now McGuire has introduced a Technicolor ready-to-wear collection ($150-$1,400, available at Henri Bendel) well seasoned with hand-painted organzas, flounced skirts, fringe, and beading. And if the colorful clothes seem better suited to Burbank's sunny studios than to SoHo's sidewalks, well, most of us don't have Elle MacPherson as a roommate, either.
MAURA EGAN

Dreading the Future

With Lauryn Hill holding designers' most-favored-diva status, Heather Graham parading the red carpet with twisted tresses, and Gucci's and Christian Dior's spring runway models shedding their goldilocks for funkier dreadlocks, the disheveled do is the latest must-have accessory. Time-pressed glamour gals and guys who hesitate to leave their manes unwashed and uncombed for the requisite months it takes to shape a head of dreads can now achieve the look in one sitting at Kropps & Bobbers (173 Orchard Street; 212-260-6992). The salon's "Rasta perm" -- in which sections of the hair are twisted and then set with a chemical permanent -- is slightly pricier ($200) than the no-shampoo method but can be done in just four hours. Concerned about stick-straight roots? The clumpy coif can be spruced up with regular maintenance visits ($50 per hour).
ALEXANDRA HAMILTON

Creative Differences

With Prada, Gucci, and Fendi currently reigning as fashion's Italian triumvirate, Giorgio Armani has been searching for some badly needed fizz for his 25-year-old empire. Having Samuel L. Jackson stroll the runway during the men's collections in Milan last week certainly increased the designer's street credibility, but last August's hire of Dutch magazine creative director Matthias Vriens almost guaranteed a grittier look for Casa Armani. Vriens, whose avant-garde spreads made Dutch an international style bible for fashion editors, was charged with modernizing the company's rather staid look. He lured photographer-of-the-moment Alexi Hay to shoot the new A|X campaign, but Armani insiders are whispering that Vriens's less-than-mainstream M.O. (at Dutch he published childhood snapshots of designers and devoted an entire issue to the influence of Yves Saint Laurent) led to clashes with the Milanese master. The print provocateur fled his cushy corporate perch this month to freelance back in Paris.
M.E.

Modern Bride

While some traditionalist brides-to-be still dream of a gown fit for a Westminster Abbey ceremony, increasing numbers want something a little less soft-focus. Even Princess Diana's wedding-dress designer, Elizabeth Emanuel, has had it up to here with lace: The tight-fitting bodice and bouffant skirt of her new "Plastic Fantastic" gown is entirely waterproof (except for the tulle underlay), which could come in handy after too many champagne toasts ($18,000, available at Michelle Roth; 212-245-3390). And for perennial ladies-in-waiting, former Vogue fashion editor Beth Blake and her design partner, Sophie Simmons, have launched Thread, a line of bridesmaid slip dresses that are a lot more understated than that sea-foam-green number you wore in your last maid-of-honor stint (408 West 15th Street; 212-414-8844).
M.E.


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