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Helga Paints Picture From Her Fall Collection Palette

August 29, 1986|MANDY BEHBEHANI

"I love beauty above all else," Helga Oppenheimer confesses.

"My greatest love is art--if it's good."

The veteran Los Angeles designer includes what she calls a Gauguin silk print in her fall collection. It's a two-piece dress, splashed with bright color, the overblouse caught at the waist in a bow.

"I found the fabric in Italy and went crazy over it," she says, "because it reminded me of Gauguin."

The designer, who recently showed her fall looks at Bullocks Wilshire, includes more fluid shapes this season, incorporating yards of fabric for opulent evening dresses and for longer daytime skirts cut on the bias.

The line includes all the designer's standards--tailored dresses and trim little suits--but with a difference. There are fewer shifts this time, and suits are more fitted at the waist, wider in the skirt. Shoulders are padded but not boxy. Wool abounds for day, silk for night.

In lengths, almost anything goes.

"Length is a big deal," Helga says. "I usually try to cover the knee, because I think it's more becoming, but there is definitely a trend toward longer skirts."

She shows suits and some daytime dresses well below the knee. Other daytime dresses and cocktail dresses run to mid-calf and evening gowns are floor length.

Helga prides herself on having fabrics "just as good as the Paris couturiers, " which this season include much wool jersey and wool crepe for day, silk and silk chiffon for cocktails.

The few pants shown are slender and tailored in wool flannel and gabardine for day, satin for evening.

Brightly colored floral and abstract prints--a lot of red and burgundy--are featured for daytime. For evening, bright red and black matelasse, lame silk organza, warped taffeta and black velvet are favorites. Prices range from $350 to $800.

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