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. . . and on the Paris runways

September 18, 1987|PAT McCOLL

PARIS — In the spring/summer 1988 menswear collections just shown here, there was a lot of masculine leg on view.

From the more conservative houses, such as Christian Dior and Nino Cerruti, to the avant-garde, such as Jean Paul Gaultier and Marithe and Francois Girbaud, it was only a matter of minutes before the shorts came marching down the runway.

Often, they were the bottom half of a serious suit message and a theme of day through evening wear. Cerruti showed black gabardine Bermudas with a white smoking jacket and black T-shirt, while British designer Richard James paired his classic smoking jacket with sequined, wide-leg, above-the-knee pants. At most houses, the shorts were pleated and cuffed and were shown with knee highs and suede lace-ups or bucks.

Designers also showed leg by way of skintight bike shorts or new-looking knee breeches, such as those at Gaultier and the Girbauds, where the elasticized fabrics made everything look that much tighter.

If pants were not short or short and tight, they were a throwback to the floppy Oxford bags of the '20s and '30s, with fabric dripping all over the shoe.

Here, the pants were often raised well above the natural waistline with double belts holding everything up. On his raised waistline pants, Yohji Yamamoto dropped rear pockets halfway to the knees.

Jackets, like pants, went to the extremes: either tight and narrow through the shoulder or big, loose and unstructured looking.

For American retailers, the news was in the narrower silhouette.

"The body-conscious cuts--

whether it's the tight-cropped leather blousons at Montana or the stretch-fabric T-shirts--look fresh and exciting and are sure to appeal to the California man," said Ray Wills, vice president and fashion director of Macy's California.

Wills also liked the subtle color palette the French designers used with harmonies of creams, tans, grays and muted greens. While there were explosions of vivid color in lines aimed at the young men's market, these subdued neutrals made some of the more outre ideas

acceptable.

At Gaultier, for instance, what looked like a pair of those Oxford bags and a classic six-button jacket in mixes of off-white and cream gabardine turned out to be a classic jacket buttoned over a loose waist, one-piece, sleeveless jump suit worn with a shirt and tie. Gaultier, one of the few designers to show ties, always showed them tucked into the shirt.

Here, as in most of the other collections, stripes had a major impact. Gaultier striped everything from knee socks to jogging pants to his signature knee breeches, while Nino Cerruti took classic pinstripes and cut them on the bias.

Even though these were summer collections, there was less emphasis on active sportswear than in the past with the separates, such as the Bermudas and jogging pants, incorporated into the total picture.

There was also less denim than usual. Where it did turn up, at Gaultier and the Girbauds, it was sensational. At the Girbauds, it was always dark and mixed with a stretch fabric so even their baggy silhouettes had shape, while at Gaultier, it's part of a new, lower-priced line--Junior Gaultier. He did it in black, cream, red and green for high waisted, well-above-the-ankle baggies twinned with collarless, cropped blousons.

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