MILAN — Hemlines have taken a noticeable hike at many designer houses here. Some retail executives say this above-the-knee length looks fresh and they'll promote it. Others say they'll keep all options open and buy a smorgasbord of lengths, from almost to the ankle to just below mid-thigh.
This hemline issue is perplexing and anachronistic. Almost everyone agrees that fashion nowadays is more a matter of wearing the right proportions. But stores have to make buying decisions, write checks and cover those checks by selling the clothes they have purchased. So the matter of lengths continues to be an issue.
Bonwit Teller President William Rubin says 70% of fall garments for his stores will hit the knee-top or rise slightly above it. I. Magnin fashion director Sonia Caproni says: "Short looks newest," but her stores will stock a bit of everything.
Giorgio Armani, who showed his ready-to-wear Wednesday night, skirted the issue by showing short and long versions of almost everything. And it all looked fine. Long wrap skirts with little tweed jackets. Short harem skirts with long tweed jackets. Pantsuits with ample legroom in solids and plaids. Long, princess-shape dresses with petticoat edges showing beneath the hemlines.
Armani's clothes are so magnificently tailored that even he can't duplicate their shapes at lower prices for his less-expensive Emporio collection.
The designer's favorite color for fall is brown. That, perhaps, is why his new public relations consultant, Lee Radziwill, wore a chocolate-color suit to his evening show.
Radziwill arrives in Los Angeles next month, she says, to promote the Armani interests. And superstar Romeo Gigli will also come to Los Angeles next month, he says, to discuss distribution of his clothes.
The Genny show Thursday morning was a monotone symphony of pale beige shades, featuring swing-back coats and jackets, slim cord pants and lots of soft, jersey knee-length body dresses with pleated fabric sections a la Romeo Gigli.
Luciano Soprani for Basile offered more long than short dresses, some of them tent-shaped under long, tented coats. His evening looks featured short skirts of black lace tiers with little black velvet jackets.
Franco Moschino, the last major designer to show this week in Milan, drew a packed house looking for the fun and fantasy the designer is known for. What they saw included an actual girdle with garters hanging down, to which Moschino had appended a long flowing skirt of gauze. There were also a number of beautifully feminine sweaters and short, flirty dresses. One full-length, red, Carmen Miranda dress was worn with a pink blazer.
Trends born in Milan that are likely to be reproduced for America at moderate prices include body-conscious clothes with narrow sloping shoulders and form-fitting bodices. Short, slim skirts with flyaway jackets. Short, gathered, pleated or circle skirts. Long, bias or gathered skirts with shaped jackets. Shawl collars on jackets, blouses and dresses. Knitted shawls and stoles instead of jackets.
New-looking knitwear for dresses and suits has raised textured patterns that imitate embroidery or ottoman ribbing. Colors are non-colors, including pale beige, pale gray-blue, taupe, navy with black, brown in every shade and black velvet for evening.