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Sarong song; the skulls; and more . . .


Sarong Song
Your winter clothes look dingy, and it's still too cold to wear spring's fripperies. Enter the lacy, beaded shawl. It looks intended for opera-going, but it's been spotted everywhere -- including in Save the Last Dance -- worn sarong-style over jeans and this season's ubiquitous leggings. "It's the last addition to an outfit," says Rebecca Apsan, who sells hand-crocheted versions at La Petite Coquette ($165; 51 University Place). "You can throw it over anything -- or wear it over nothing if you want to seduce someone." Winona Ryder and Kylie Bax are among the fashion-hungry who grabbed up the first 200 at that store. (More are on order.) It'll get you through the Ides of March at least.

The Skulls
If you've never been one for the cabbage rose, you may be concerned about this spring's bumper crop of feminine floral prints. But while the palette may, indeed, be pastel, there are prints out there for those who like their fabrics a little more . . . scary. Skulls -- as in Jolly Rogers, crossbones included -- are showing their creepy, skinless faces on clothes all over the city. They're in Luella Bartley's collection, peppering miniskirt suits and otherwise sweet sherbet-colored blouses with matching ties ($250-$1,000 at Henri Bendel, 712 Fifth Avenue). And Noir, by Leeora Catalan, has done a collection of rhinestone jewelry in the shape of skulls -- brooches, pendants, cuff bracelets. "We're calling it 'elegant punk,' and we're putting it on everything," says Catalan. Can eye patches and peg legs be far behind?

15 Minutes . . .
It seems like only yesterday that fashion girls were clamoring for uptown (as in north of 96th Street) style, but in recent weeks big, gold J. Lo hoop earrings have seen their stock plummet -- bad news for anyone who spent more than $12 on a pair while they were at their shoulder-grazing peak this summer and fall. "There are a few women who can always wear gold hoops, because they are beyond fashion's rules," says Michelle Kessler Sanders, accessories director at Vogue. "For the rest of us, it's better to invest in something original." So what instead? "Cartier from the forties and fifties is so elegant!" Sanders says, "or anything from Tom Binns's latest collection." Those who've been burned recently should, of course, wait for the $12 knockoffs to hit Canal Street.

Smart Set
Robin Kramer
If you are at all style-conscious, and live in New York, it is more than likely that you've been in an environment created entirely by Robin Kramer at least once. The former head of merchandising at Calvin Klein, Kramer now runs a branding-design firm -- in other words, you can bring her your company, however outmoded, and she will reconstruct its image from start to finish, right down to the handles on the dressing-room doors. She will consult on your clothing line or build your flagship boutique from scratch: the lighting, how you should fold shirts and display ties, who the employees should be, where they should stand to greet the customers. Right now, Kramer is at work reconfiguring Barneys. Having already designed its Co-op boutique and bridal atelier, she's now moving the cosmetic department into the old Fred's space in the basement (there will be a new restaurant on the ground floor). She's also designing Donna Karan's new Madison Avenue store and Waterworks' expansion and giving Arche -- the comfortable-shoe company -- a stylish new image. But who would Kramer really love to get her hands on? "American Airlines," she says, wrinkling her nose at the thought of its utilitarian ticket envelopes and standard-issue silverware. "I mean, there's just no reason it can't be . . . better."


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