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Fashion 86 : Picture This: Classic Renaissance in Exclusive Photos From Milan

March 07, 1986|BETTIJANE LEVINE | Times Fashion Editor

Trendies may have trouble with the new fall fashions from Milan, which appear to have nothing trendy about them.

You can call them classic, simple, uncluttered, easy-to-wear, retrospective or eclectic--but judging from the exclusive, advance photos for The Times, there isn't a "pet rock" look in the lot.

This means that women who want to make a "new fashion statement" with their wardrobes this fall may have to make it with styles that have been around the block once before.

That could be a good sign. Perhaps the fashion world is cured of shock-value clothes that cannot survive the season. Maybe women will be spared those grand fashion passions doomed to fizzle right after they ignite.

Hot pants, after all, did not become a golden oldie.

Pantsuits and sweater-dresses did. And so it's back to the basics for the Milanese, who'll present an antipasto of great looks through the decades when they start showing fall collections to buyers and the press this weekend. For women who've shunned the classics until now, these styles will definitely look and feel new.

They are also feminine and revealing. A woman can't hide behind these clothes, for example, because they need her personality in order to come alive. They are characters in search of an author. Or, to put it another way: They're like Katharine Hepburn's trousers, which don't look great unless Hepburn is inside.

And while the news value may not come from the outfits themselves, it will surely come from the way in which 1980s women wear them. Milanese designers tend to see it all with flat shoes, unfussy hair styles, a minimum of jewelry and other clutter. But Los Angeles women will no doubt have their own accessory ideas.

Nothing could be more basic than the time-tested shirt, sweater and pleat-front pants ensemble by Mariuccia Mandelli for Krizia. But the slightly broadened shoulders, the belt, the menswear touch of a tie give the outfit a contemporary tone.

Giorgio Armani's pantsuit for Erreuno is another example of the Italian "no news is good news" trend. The lines are sleek, simple and casual--updates of a look in which women have looked wonderful for years.

And Laura Biagiotti's knit shirtdress needs no explanation. It is simply there, a timeless statement of comfort and ease that could have come from the back of the closet or, brand new, from any elegant shop in the world.

Gianfranco Ferre, Luciano Soprani and Claude Montana for Complice all bring back variations of "the topper," a short-cut coat style that's worked well with skirts and pants in decades past. For young women who've seen and liked that look in old films, it may even start a trend.

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