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New York: Fall Options Narrow Down to the Lean and Essential

May 03, 1985|MARYLOU LUTHER | Times Fashion Editor

NEW YORK — Oversize is over. Over here.

Fit is back. And fall fashion is everything you ever wanted in a look. And less. Fewer calories. Less filling. One long diet drink of slink.

The New York designer whose collection most exemplifies the new lean and hungry look is Geoffrey Beene. He tells Fashion85 that his new fall designs are so fitted that for the first time in 15 years he's had to throw out all his old patterns. (Designers are usually able to nip in or ease out existing patterns in their seasonal determinations of fit. Beene says the new narrowing is so significant that he had to construct entirely new patterns.)

Translated into clothes, this means a new body consciousness guaranteed to send women running for the nearest gym. Because the new clothes are an unforgiving lot, even New York's string-bean models have been seen pulling their tummies in this week. Cottage-cheese thighs have been detected under sheer cashmeres, and matte jersey has become the curse of dimpled derrieres.

Perhaps because the shoulders are still broad, the lean looks of fall '85 are not the curvy kind that cling to the body like wet T-shirts. They are much more refined. And they are the work of designers who know the difference between plaster and fit. Result: The clothes

are more ladylike than sexy, more rich than racy, more a flaunt of gaunt than a tease of sleaze.

In many ways, fit is the one ingredient that separates the good designers from the also-rans. During the years of oversize clothes, a jacket didn't have to fit properly. In fact, it looked more fashionable if the shoulders were too big and the sleeves too long. Now that clothes are coming back to the body, there's no disguising a jacket that has too much fullness at the waistline or too little give at the hips. And there's no justification for a dress that ripples at the lap line or buckles at the back buttoning.

Beene's jersey dresses are amazing testimonials to his talent at being able to make some of the skimpiest designs in the world look easy and comfortable. And his new featherweight tweed suits skim in and out of curves like satin nightgowns. There is fullness in the Beene coats; there is even a full-skirted navy dress, but the fullness is controlled, flaring out at exactly the right spot.

As the designer who first brought wool jersey to the ballroom, Beene continues to refine the jersey look after dark in long columnar dresses, some with tulip hemlines and others with wrapped halter bodices. One of the most perfect dresses of this or any season is his navy wool jersey gown with slender satin skirt. The long sleeves end in beaded cuffs.

Beene's long evening coats over long jersey dresses make the little wrap obsolete. This look of the long, instep-length greatcoat over dresses, pants, short skirts or even leggings is one that differentiates the American collections from the European collections.

Some of the best long coats of the season are at Stephen Sprouse, where black gabardine officer's coats shield matching gabardine chauffeur's jackets and long gored skirts. And gray denim "bob coats" cover long wool jersey Camelot dresses. And long red melton-cloth coats mate with long red T-shirts and red jeans. And long Day-Glo tweed overcoats cover psychedelic print shirts and bell bottoms in New York City graphics drawn and colored by Sprouse. And a Day-Glo fake-fur cape salutes the American flag in red and white stripes and white stars on a blue background.

Sprouse, whose entire collection is long and often princess-seamed, features some of the most amazing accessories of the season. The range includes fake-raccoon Davy Crockett hats, purple satin combat boots and sequined army field boots with cleat soles.

This young designer, who single-handedly brought back the micro-minis and neon colors of the psychedelic '60s, says goodby to short skirts in favor of floor-sweeping hippie looks. One of his best dresses is a black crushed-velvet sweetheart-neckline gown, which he wants his '85 hippies to wear during the daytime.

This night-for-day look is one of the few trends for fall that encompasses many price ranges.

The designer who does the dress-up-for-day look best for the you-can't-be-too-rich-or-too-thin crowd is Bill Blass. In one of his best collections ever, fashion's most timeless designer switches the clock around to bring us bare, halter-neck jersey dresses for day and long printed coats over matching overblouses and jersey pants for evening. His floor-length navy cashmere officer's coats over sable-collared navy jackets and matching pants represent Blass at his best and are perhaps even more important in that they can function day or night.

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