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Newest Menswear Shows Are Off-Runway, Off-Video

December 12, 1986|PADDY CALISTRO

Is there already something trendier than fashion videos? Although people have become blase about MTV-style presentations of fashion on tape, they're beginning to take notice of live fashion performances.

The fashion performance contrasts markedly to the traditional fashion show. Instead of featuring clothing on gorgeous models, a performance highlights a story line and characters, and the clothing becomes of secondary importance.

Three California Stores

Consider the performance recently presented by Politix, a London-based wholesale menswear company, which operates three retail establishments in Southern California.

The stage was set--a rumpled bed, an armoire filled with the season's trendiest menswear. The cast included a handful of male models, clad first in only boxer shorts and matching bikini briefs, and a chain-smoking woman, the obvious object of these men's attention.

As our heroine blew smoke rings in the air, the male harem repeatedly changed clothes, going from chic to chic-er right before the audience's eyes.

The audience received a redundant fashion message: a mix of textured fabrics, the clash of plaids, stripes and patterns, and wide-shouldered jackets teamed with high-waisted pants so long that they bunched at the ankle. The young men changed in and out of these looks for the entire half-hour performance. Yet their wardrobe of Italian-designed British imports provided viewers with nothing more than a subliminal fashion statement.

Grand Finale

Instead, the audience appeared far more interested to learn which guy would finally get the girl. She turned aside the fellow with the green plastic barrette in his hair, bypassed the one with a scraggly ponytail, rejected the man with the mirrored pince-nez and finally selected the male with shoulder-length black locks.

The performance closed more conventionally than it began--with a wedding scene. But this bride wore black silk taffeta and lace, but not to upstage the groom in his black Italian evening coat. There were no bridesmaids and the groom's attendants were dressed in turtlenecks.

Politix shows are invitation-only affairs, but when they happen in the windows of the Westwood store, passers-by and those waiting in line for nearby movies get to view the live performances too. This new step in fashion imagery brings the presentation of clothing back where it started. The fashion show has come back to life with the fashion performance--but for video-philes, tapes of the shows can be viewed in the stores.

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