Streisand Too Busy To Shop

September 25, 1968

by Eugenia Sheppard

Shopping was once Barbra Streisand's favorite sport, but now she can hardly find time. It's the price a girl has to pay for fame.

“There are so many things in my life,” says Barbra. “There's my husband. I'm a happily married woman. Don't believe anything you read about me. We're shopping for a bigger apartment so I can put everything away. I'm tired of stumbling over cartons of cranberry glass that I got in Southampton last summer. We had a house on the ocean.

“I have to look for a nursery school for my son,” Barbra goes on. “He's 21 months old. He knows the alphabet already and can count to 20.”

Costume sketch from Funny Girl

The other day she slipped out and made the rounds of one of her favorite haunts, the thrift shops on Second Avenue where she used to find some marvelous clothes. It wasn't the same.

“They all recognize me now,” she says. “When I ask for a better price, they want to know why I should ask for a price. I tried to explain that getting a better price is the whole fun of the thing, but they didn't seem to understand.”

By this time Barbra Streisand, who was born a fashion pro, has been shopping all over the world. For a coming picture she would like to fly over to Europe and buy her clothes in the boutiques, but there isn't enough time.

As a matter of principle, Barbra prefers ready-to-wear to couture. “I don't like fittings and I don't like things too matched. I like to look like a girl of today.”

Shopping recently with a friend, though, she was shocked at the ready-to-wear prices. “They were asking $600 for some of the most appalling things. It really costs less to have them made-to-order.”

Her own new clothes are both ready-to-wear and custom order. At Henri Bendel, she just bought a pale grey calf-length coat, loaded with grey fox, once of the store's one-of-a-kind English imports. She'll wear it over both a midi dress in two shades of grey and short, short dresses like the '20s.

“I'm going back to silk stockings,” she says. “I've been collecting them for years.”

She'll wear them with the Fiorentina shoes that have the big, heavy heels.

Barbra likes fur-trimmed cloth coats better than all-fur. “Fur coats always seem to me too bulky through the top.”

At Maximilian, she has designed her own combination. Her coat will have a cloth yoke and sleeves, and the mink will start at the bosom line. The skirt will detach so she can have different color tops. The original is red, but she's planning others, including dark green velvet. Scaasi will do a little dress in the same velvet for her to wear under it.

Arnold Scaasi is making quite a few things for her personal wardrobe, including the four gowns for the openings of the Funny Girl movie in four different cities.

For the premiere here in New York, which benefitted Mayor Lindsay's youth and physical fitness program, the odds were that she would appear in Scaasi's nude color net cape and dress, very lightly embroidered with glitter and sea shells. It looks like a giant, iridescent butterfly.

“I never like to decide what I'm going to wear until I'm ready to put it on,” Barbra said. It meant that if the night was warm, or her mood changes she could switch to an all-over ruffled, white organic that was intended originally for the California openings.

Barbra likes her Irene Sharaff costumes for the Funny Girl film, but they cut out her favorite, a lime green coat lavishly trimmed with black sealskin. “I'm glad they did, because now it's mine.”

After the opening, guests crossed Broadway to the vacant space that the old Astor Hotel used to occupy. Two tents, not just one, were pitched for a champagne party. They were decorated by Johns and Kelly with palms and pink and yellow ostrich plumes, a tribute to Ziegfeld Follies times, and to the original funny girl, Fanny Brice.


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