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People of Paris

October 17, 1986|TIMOTHY HAWKINS and DIANE SUSTENDAL

PARIS — Though the fashion runways of Paris are currently the place to find the official news, the streets of Paris are a fashion show of their own. Most people can't parade down a runway to strut their latest wears, but they can sidle up to the nearest sidewalk cafe or take a stroll down the Champs Elysees or Faubourg Saint-Honore where fashion-watching is a national pastime.

Current street directions for women include lots of topical interest in both the hair and hat categories. Some of the latest dos show the French are high on hair that recalls the pile-it-on looks of the turn of the century. And though they have not resorted to helmets as protection from urban rigors, they take cover under hats in styles from picture-wide perfect to pillbox to charm-covered beret.

Along Boulevard Saint Germaine and the streets that wind through Les Halles, the men take to making statements with as much studied-unstudied vengeance as their female friends.

Young Parisian men opt for clothes that have the look of hand-me-downs. Jackets are either too short and too small or too big and baggy. Pants are "flood-water" length--short enough to allow a lot of sock to show.

The punk look has all but faded, but Euro-preppie lives on in the form of pale sweaters and pink socks. Sweaters are tossed over the shoulders, tied around the waist and twisted at the neck as if to mimic a muffler. Topsiders and penny loafers vie with tennis shoes.

It becomes increasingly difficult to spot the Americans--male or female--around town because so many Parisians want to dress American style. Perhaps that explains the queue at the new Polo/Ralph Lauren shop in the Place de la Madeleine.

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