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Left Red-Faced by Proletarian Chic

June 15, 1989|DOTTIE ENRICO | Newsday

Women's Wear Daily's "Red Guard" sportswear supplement is leaving the fashion industry's trade bible a little red-faced, given China's current political climate.

The publication carried a cover photograph last week highlighting Mao Tse-tung-style jackets. The spread inside touted "proletarian chic" as the look for fall.

In copy promoting the look, WWD said, "Smartly cut Mao jackets, already a proven hit in China, are being taken up by American designers. Overalls, jumpsuits and jumpers are also key to the new utilitarian chic . . . The proletarian palette is subdued but not drab."

But fashion experts are saying the Mao look was never a hit and that anyone who might be following WWD's cue is probably going back to the drawing boards.

Rethink and Recolor

"I don't think it's going to be a big look," said Bernie Ozer, vice president at Associated Merchandising in New York. "If anyone was considering some kind of a Mao jacket, they'd rethink it and sell it in bright oranges and call it an Indian Nehru look."

Competitors questioned WWD's decision to run the supplement. Michael Belluomo, editor and publisher of Sportswear International, said that he would not have published it.

"The garment industry has been drastically affected by what's going on in China," Belluomo said, referring to disruptions of apparel shipments. "It's a very sensitive issue."

Calls to Women's Wear Daily were not returned.

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