Nancy Reagan has persisted in "borrowing" costly clothes and jewelry from leading fashion houses without disclosing it, Time magazine reported Sunday, despite her public promise to stop more than six years ago.
Any significant items given as gifts to the first lady are required by law to be listed on annual financial disclosure forms, and White House lawyers agreed in February 1982 after some political embarrassment that any apparel viewed as loans would be reported each year also, Time noted in this week's edition.But according to the magazine, neither the disclosure forms nor tax returns of President and Mrs. Reagan from 1982 to 1987 list loans or gifts of dresses to her - even though designers and merchants acknowledge giving her many.
"We think of it as loans. It's wonderful. She has been a sensation for my business," designer David Hayes of Los Angeles told Time, saying Mrs. Reagan has "borrowed" 60 to 80 costly outfits from him in the past eight years.
Chris Blazakis, who was executive vice president of Galanos Originals from 1983 to 1985 and has conducted extensive research for a critical book he is writing about the Reagans, said he was told by James Galanos that the first lady generally did not pay for dresses and only returned them for repairs.
Furthermore, Time reported, an executive who asked to remain anonymous at Manhattan's Harry Winston jewelers confirmed the first lady has been loaned expensive gems, for example, traveling overseas with a pair of 10-carat drop diamond earrings worth about $800,000.
Elaine Crispen, the first lady's spokeswoman, told Time last week that her boss maintains she has bought all the clothes she has worn since early 1982 and has not borrowed or received any as gifts since then. Crispen said 1981 was the last year in which jewelry loans were made to her.
But Blazakis has identified more than 300 photographs taken since 1982 that show Mrs. Reagan wearing outfits by such couturiers as Galanos, Hayes, Bill Blass and Adolfo, according to the magazine. He and another fashion expert estimate the retail value of the collection at $1 million to $1.4 million.
Hayes said the former actress has returned him more than half the items she borrowed from him, but he conceded the rest have been kept and acknowledged that "once something is worn" its value is "nothing."