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Cycle Shorts

June 05, 1987|MARY ROURKE

Think of them as this summer's hot pants. They're not new, they just look that way. The pros have been wearing them to the Velodrome forever. And a couple of years ago the amateurs picked up on them too, for pedaling.

Now every designer worth the word "hip" is showing some version of cycle shorts--skintight, knee-tickling and not originally intended for city streets.

And they got the idea from you.

Plenty of people who helped promote this style couldn't sew a button to a blouse let alone design clothes they could actually produce. Yet it was their idea, not some fashion designer's, to team authentic cycle shorts with oversize sweaters or T-shirts for an off-track fashion trend.

It was months later that designers got into the act. But when they did, it spread from Paris and Milan to New York and Los Angeles. Now even the big shots are adapting the look for life beyond bikes.

Their major contribution may be that they got rid of the leather crotches of authentic shorts, which helped prevent saddle sores during long-distance rides. It's not the most comfortable thing for walking around.

Claude Montana was one of the first to take a professional fashion designer's approach to the look. More than a year ago, he showed tight, knee-grazing pants to wear with elegant, matching jackets. That made it official. Bicycle shorts out of context became pantsuits for city streets.

This spring Romeo Gigli of Milan shows bicycle shorts made of stretch linen. Like Montana's version, his have a three-digit price tag attached. Gigli shows them with linen sweaters every bit as pricey.

Los Angeles' award-winning designer, Leon Max, still thinks of weekends and moderate prices when he sees the shorts. Max is showing them with oversize T-shirts covered with graphics that look like block-print designs.

Local bodywear and weekend wear designer Gilda Marx keeps cycle shorts in the casual arena too. Her version in sweat-suit gray goes with a sporty, cropped T-shirt that carries a one word message: body.

Not to be ignored: Whether Marx or Montana styles them, cycle shorts aren't for the stout-hewn. If you want to hold the fashion fast track this summer, it could cost you more than one milkshake.

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