Liz Smith: The Rules of Fashion — They Rule!

High-necked Coco made the rules!

And more from our Liz: Tovah Feldshuh hosts “Broadway Beauty” … Andrew Lloyd Webber objects to Tim Rice’s search for Jesus … Madonna is nervous!

“Nothing goes out of fashion sooner than a long dress with a very low neck,” said Coco Chanel.

Shades of the awards season on the red carpet!

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AND here are just a few other quotes since we are in for “fashion” on television at least through the Academy Awards on February 26.

“Fashions, after all, are only induced epidemics,” said George Bernard Shaw

“The origins of clothing are not practical. They are mystical and exotic. The primitive man in the wolf-pelt was not keeping dry; he was saying, ‘Look what I killed!’ said Katharine Hamnett. (Shades of the current Ralph Fiennes movie hit “Coriolanus.”)

“Fashion is more powerful than any tyrant,” goes the Latin proverb.

But quotes and proverbs aside, I still think Tilda Swinton has the best dresses. Her blue costume at the Golden Globes was staggering. And, she looked great at the SAG awards as well.

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SPEAKING of fashion, the funniest charity event turns out to be the grand actress Tovah Feldshuh’s sixth Annual “Broadway Beauty Pageant” featuring the theater’s current crop of leading men.

These males have to compete through their talent, what they say in interviews and they’ll also do a swimsuit competition. Judges have included some of the drama world’s most astute people like Charles Busch, Michael Musto, Christine Ebersole, Carson Kressley, Bruce Vilanch, Rachel Dratch, Ana Gasteyer, Beth Leavel and Seth Rudetsky. The audience is the final judge.

Tickets at Symphony Space, or call 212-864-5400. They run $25 to $150.

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EVERYTHING old is new again, including feuds along what is laughingly called “The Great White Way” and you won’t be surprised to know this time it’s between Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Tim Rice.

Once collaborators — their big hit was “Jesus Christ Superstar” — they are now at odds over a new production of same.

Sir Tim is angry that there’ll be a TV show to find the next man who’ll play Jesus. He thinks that such casting is “tacky … tasteless … relentlessly downmarket.”

Lord Lloyd says he had found stars in this manner for a number of West End musicals. He is evidently proceeding without Tim’s help or approval.

Tim responds: “It’s just possible that it might be the most sophisticated, tasteful show hosted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, but I doubt it … and I really don’t think Andrew should do it … They can’t cast the show without my approval.”

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THERE IS a most fascinating woman, without much on, hanging around Britain’s National Portrait Gallery. She is Nell Gwyn, lover of King Charles II, seen in a painting by Simon Vereist which has been hidden from public view for almost 50 years. The 17th century actress shows her charming bosoms with only a lacy blouse totally slipped down to totally expose them.

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SPEAKING of nudity, it’s never been a problem for Keira Knightley according to reporter John Hiscock.

But she did balk at some scenes director David Cronenberg wanted her to do for “A Dangerous Method.” She thought what he desired was too explicit. In the end, he persuaded her and ‘tis said the beautiful actress was helped through by “inhibition-easing shots of vodka.”

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SOME folks are up in arms over the new James Bond movie, “Skyfall,” because director Sam Mendes makes use of military funeral repatriations for fallen soldiers. He is accused of not being aware of proper protocol in setting up a big scene with Judi Dench as M and as many as 400 movie extras.

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THE ACTOR Toby Jones , who played Truman Capote in the 2006 Film “Infamous,” is taking on another great figure of the past. None other than director Alfred Hitchcock.

“I’m researching the character at the moment. It’s fascinating. I don’t want to say too much but he is a complex character and I am working to get to grips with it. I am very excited by the challenge.”

As you know, Hitchcock — a master of suspense — always appeared briefly in his movies, unidentified. Fans began to watch for him. The best instance of this was on Broadway in the fascinating little farce which ran several years ago — “The 39 Steps.” Hitchcock appeared herein as a tiny miniature drawn figure.

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REMEMBER Charlie Chaplin balancing a globe in “The Great Dictator,” which was a send-up of Hitler?

Sacha Baron Cohen is coming in May in a film titled just “The Dictator” in which he makes a mockery of a lunatic tyrant. He wears a huge beard and fuzzy hair and affects the ribbons, medals and absurd uniforms fancied by the late Col.Gadhafi.

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ENDQUOTE: The admired reporter Jacob Bernstein

writes in The Daily Beast that I, your own Liz, am “not afraid to be a rare unabashed supporter of Madonna in the press.”

Well, that’s true. I am usually on Madonna’s side. But I don’t believe anyone can rise above ridicule at the Super Bowl’s halftime. Still, I have my fingers crossed. If anyone can pull this off, it’s Madonna. (But she herself admits to being a nervous wreck over one of the most daunting performances of her career.)

And I loved Madonna’s quote to someone who asked if she’d be happy if she were married to a Royal? The star said, “Why don’t you ask me that when I marry a Royal!”

3 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Wiley Canuck says:

    Tilda Swinton – again – she’s true to herself – good for her – a dying art. Go Tilda!!

  2. avatar Barbara says:

    Ah for the fashion days of Coco Chanel. These days it seems to be a race for who can show their manufactured bosoms pushed up higher and uncovered the most. All those golden globes jokes as a result. It’s just a parade of forgettable women and fashion in a race to show more skin with less and less reality.

    • avatar Baby Snooks says:

      There truly was only one Chanel. Even Lagerfeld never really “got it.”  Fashion editors love to use the word “classic” to describe the “current” fashions. But they are all “dated” in a year or two. Chanel? Her designs, particularly the suits, are timeless. Even a 50 year old suit will still draw compiments.