Fashions for fall '95 want to get close to you. Real close.
They want to outline every curve, put cleavage on display and put you in skirts so narrow and heels so high you may have to learn to walk all over again.Those are just a few of the messages designers sent down New York runways as they previewed fall and winter collections for retail store buyers, media and related industries.
And these blatantly sexy clothes can't be blamed on some "male conspiracy." Both male and female designers put some or all of the above looks in their lines.
Skirts were straight and tight with lengths hovering around the knees, just above or below. They usually had a slit in the back. Options? There were A-line skirts, wrap styles and flared skirts cut on the bias so hemlines had a flounce.
Like so many designers, Oscar de la Renta opened his show with black and white. In this instance it meant tweed suits, coats and dresses. It also meant pinstripes.
Suits generally overshadowed dresses with one exception: Coat dresses. They were short to long, single or double-breasted, and sometimes worn over pants. But they were everywhere.
Geoffrey Beene showed long (just above the ankles) supple dresses with either very straight or flared skirts. Worn with flat-heeled boots they looked comfortable and practical.
Shapes may have been repetitious, but details made a big difference. Designers used buttons, embroidered ribbon trim, zippers (sometimes several per jacket), splices of color or contrasting fabric to differentiate their jackets and dresses.
Bill Blass put what he called "hip godets" in a jacket - big pieces of a contrasting fabric on the jacket hem that looked like a bias-cut peplum, for example. Other designers added velvet or vinyl collars, or ran contrasting color blocks down jacket fronts.
Evening dresses frequently had two fabrics: a velvet bodice and taffeta skirt, for example, satin with georgette, or matte jersey with lace as seen at the Blass show. Beene's show had leather and satin mixtures and Klein put a simple band of sequins at the hemline of a black satin sheath.
While women will probably continue to cling to their little black dresses, designers are certainly giving them options. No single late-day look dominated the shows, but there were recurring themes.
Designers absolutely adored big satin ball gowns, especially those with long, "princess" lines and skirts about four feet wide at the hemline. Many were strapless and models appeared to be wearing push-up bras.
Short red sheath dresses showed up in collection after collection - usually made of satin. Isaac Mizrahi gave this red dress a new look by quilting it in big squares and calling it a "tea cozy dress." Satin suits, long slinky dresses with long sleeves, tuxedos with skirts or pants and satin pants with shiny blouses were other evening options. Slip dresses, probably the most difficult style for women to wear, are still being shown.
Some styles may be forgettable, but new fabrics being used are not. Heavy nylon, once relegated to clothing for police or snow boarders, appeared in suits and coats. It looks terrific.
Most designers included some vinyl, some used it ad nauseum. Todd Oldham, always on the cutting edge with fabrics, found and used a stretch vinyl.
Stretch fabrics, matte jersey, hand-painted fabrics, faux furs, brocades, tweeds and knits that glitter, chenille, lace, velvet and tweeds of every texture make clothing interesting.
When it comes to color, black seems destined to remain forever in first place. But browns from camel to chocolate appeared frequently. So did shades of orange, and clear reds were everywhere. Collection after collection included a group of vibrant red dresses or suits, and usually some reds for evening. Add baby blue, greens from chartreuse to forest, and the fashion picture becomes vibrant. About the only thing missing was purple, although there was some mauve.
Coats that cover all these styles tend to be classic, such as a camel bathrobe wrap, or a maxi coat with princess lines. The latter was usually shown in wool or vinyl. Shawl-collared coats with a single button at waist or neckline were alternatives.