Oscar de la Renta Demands Respect for Fashion Week -- Bill Bryson's 'One Summer: America, 1927' -- 'Hot In Cleveland' Sizzles with MTM Reunion

"Fashion Week began with Rosh Hashanah. So nothing is sacred anymore. Except new shoes!"

So says my underground fashion wunderkind pal.

• Who is numero uno in real fashion influence and knowledge? No, not Anna Wintour of Vogue and now in all but total control of Conde Nast. Not to say she isn't right there at the tippy-top. But I believe even Anna would agree with me when I name - the one and only Oscar de la Renta.

This smart and charming and talented, sometimes outrageous Dominican who graduated from Elizabeth Arden in his early days, has, in his professional lifetime , been wed to two women just as smart, cultured, and highly thought of (the late Francoise and the current Annette) as he is. And, at 81, Oscar has overcome all obstacles, gone fashionable world wide and he really "gets it."

He is both available and knows when to be unavailable. He takes on modern technology, using techno-savvy, and weds it to historical real knowledge and fashion grandeur. He has made himself into a North American icon, with all the attachments of international recognition.

When he notes to Mail Online's Sadie Whitelocks that Fashion Week in New York has "become a circus." He knows whereof he speaks - slamming celebrities and their mindless hordes of followers as ruining what should be a specialty. He demands that high fashion deserves respect. It should be regarded with less spectacle and more substance.

Oscar realizes it is in fashion's nature to always change. But the current poseurs, wannabes, multitudes of photographers and crowds having nothing to do with actual fashion are ruining a true world of selectivity and knowledge that does have something to say. He blames the stars and aspiring stars and their hangers on, who ruin occasions like the Academy Awards. I think he is saying that certain kinds of celebrity are partly to blame for the current mediocrity.

• FASHION spectacle has to become more manageable, more exclusive, shaped and sorted out and aimed , not at live multitudes but at those who actually know what fashion is.

They are not the same as the thrill-hungry mob like those who loved the bread and circuses in the Colliseum. Fashion needs a more elegant select educated group with an "eye", experience and yes, class.

I guess something has to change before Fashion Week implodes in on itself. A world of screaming photographers, getting the goods, isn't good for running the show on the runway and this includes clamoring crowds shouting people's names and making a public nuisance of themselves. Fashion Week has become somewhat chaotic.

Gangs photographing and attacking celebrities and over-eager would-be stars, are overshadowing and overwhelming Fashion Week itself.

• "DURING PROHIBITION. To render industrial alcohol disagreeable for drinking, the government took to denaturing in--that is, dosing it with poisons such as strychnine and mercury, which had the power to blind, cripple or kill those who drank it. Figures vary wildly on just how many people died wretchedly from drinking de-natured alcohol...however large or small the total, it is surely the most bizarrely sinister episode in American history."

So writes Bill Bryson in his fabulous new book, "One Summer: America, 1927."

It was the year of Lindbergh...Babe Ruth.."Shipwreck" Kelly on the flagpole...the trial and execution of husband-killer Ruth Snyder (the first woman to die in the electric chair)...the terrible storms that flooded the Mississippi basin, and much more than I could properly relate in one column.

I recently wrote about one of Bryson's earlier books, "At Home," which is similarly packed, page after page with delicious and sometimes dreadful detail. (On the dreadful side, in "One Summer," we are told of the stoning to death of a young black boy who fell asleep on a raft that drifted into an exclusively white beach. How far are we removed from such barbaric actions these days?)

Bryson is a marvelous historian, not only exhaustively accurate, but highly entertaining. If you avoid textbook histories because they seem too dry, pick up "One Summer," or any other of Mr. Bryson's books. They are intelligent delights.

• And so, they all made it after all! I do the mean hilarious "Hot in Cleveland" reunion of Betty White, Valerie Harper, Mary Tyler Moore, Cloris Leachman and Georgia Engel from the eternally beloved "Mary Tyler Moore Show." (Miss Engel, as adorably naïve and baby-voiced as ever, is now a regular on "HIC.")

When "Hot" first debuted three seasons ago, I wasn't overwhelmed. But the stars, Betty White, Valerie Bertinelli, Wendy Malick and Jane Leeves, soon got their groove--and perhaps better writers. The show is consistently funny, often laugh-out-loud funny. (Anybody see the episode where Malick is being electrocuted by an exercise belt she can't get off?) It really is "The Golden Girls" for the 21st century, even down to the fact that all the stars come from other, well-regarded hit series. (In Miss White's case, this is her second smash all-female ensemble.)

As to the reunion, it lived up to its hype. It was more than mere sentiment at seeing these TV icons together again, they were given terrific material, and there were many clever little references to the old "MTM" show. I won't give up too much of the plot, because the reunion can be seen again on Sunday, September 8 at 10:30 a.m. (Set your clocks! Paste a note on the fridge!) However, you haven't lived until you've watched suave George Hamilton lust after...Betty White. And Cloris Leachman remains a wild woman.

"Hot In Cleveland"--it's a sizzler.