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Where the Blazed Trail Crosses the Boulevard" has long been the motto of the most deluxe sporting goods store in the U.S. and perhaps the world. The boulevard is Manhattan's Madison Avenue; the trail is one that has been blazed by kings of Belgium and Thailand, princes of Monaco and Saudi Arabia, plus Presidents of the U.S. from Theodore Roosevelt through John F. Kennedy. The store is Abercrombie & Fitch. These royalty, as well as lesser mortals, have outfitted themselves with $2,850 shotguns and $12.95 spinning reels, father-and-son boxing gloves, camel saddles, falcon hoods, cross-eyed guns (for people who shoot righthanded and sight left-eyed), cheetah collars and catnip mice.
Abercrombie & Fitch sells clothes too —men's clothes, that is. Chief Justice Earl Warren bought two $110 sets of cashmere underwear there for duck shooting, and an emissary of Pope Pius XII bought him a $450 vicuna dressing gown. But Abercrombie never lost much sleep on the girls—if they insisted on coming along. Judging from what they offered women who would ahunting go, Abercrombie's idea of female sporting wear was to shrink down a man's khaki shirt, slack off the seat of the trousers, and add a veil to the sun helmet. Part of Margaret Macomber's hostility to her luckless husband must have been her feeling that she looked awful.
But this year's Paris collections put ideas into Abercrombie's fusty head. The Paris designs were full of Robin Hood hats, thigh-length boots, and the look "sportif" for town. Could girls, should girls, look attractive on safari?
Huffing with mixed embarrassment and pride, like the father of the bride at a big wedding, Abercrombie put on its first fashion show ever. Under the glassy glare of stuffed animals and the classy stare of fashion writers, five sexy mannequins paraded such sporty ensembles as a corduroy shooting jacket with suede gun patches and shell-case buttons; a polar-bear parka for $2,000; a pleated shooting culotte with snake-proof boots for huntresses with pretty knees; a silver hair-seal parka with hair-seal skates to match; and to keep warmer still—the chicest, sleekest flask, called Little Nipper, designed to fit on the sveltest hip and never make an unintended bulge. The response was enough to warm even a trout fisherman's clam my boots.
Hunting—and huntsmen—may never be the same.