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Forecast: A Hot Fall : California Designers Reveal Sexy and Layered Looks for the Season


California designers have said "yes" to long lengths and, in a trio of shows over the weekend, proved fall will be provocative despite a drop in hemlines.


Almost ignoring miniskirts, they draped sheer chiffon tops over bare bosoms, sliced pants to reveal more leg and opened soft jackets to expose breasts and midriffs. Maybe these clothes won't help women break through the glass ceiling. But they should break some ice in the private sector.

Whether a woman rides the hippie-rehash road, the equestrian trail, or the Orient Express, she will find an abundance of sexy, feminine material. Figuratively and literally. Pants are prevalent, ranging from cigarette thin to pajama full to a serious revival of bell bottoms. Vests and dresses frequently hit just above the ankle. Fitted jackets reach hip length or longer. And layered dressing is back.

Among trends to note, the short car wash skirt has evolved into the long car wash skirt and the car wash pants. During the California Mart's fashion show Sunday night, Biya showed slit black pants under a fitted, wide lapel jacket. Saelee showed similar pants in lacquer red and paired them with a square neck jacket.

Van Buren, designed by Maggie Barry and Ty Moore, provided the show's most provocative leg coverings, including a pair of cherry-blossom brocade "jeans." They also provided the show's sexiest dress. The long gown, made of a tiger-striped, see-through fabric, revealed a leather bra and thong and the model's perfect 10 body beneath.

Invisible body stockings were the secret weapon under Robin Piccone's transparent "spider-web lace" gown and bell-bottom jumpsuit. In a more covered take on fashion, she reworked the '70s with striped jersey bodysuits, adding long skirts and bell bottoms outlined with top stitching.

More top stitching surfaced in the Antony Moorcroft collection by Theresa McAllen. In addition, McAllen mixed dot and floral fabrics in appealing layered combinations that included a long vest and long dress over palazzo pants.

The '70s stripe motif, evoking memories of little-boy sweaters, appeared in the A.K.A Los Angeles collection by Andrea Vincent. Colors such as cappuccino and espresso were featured in long stripe T-shirt dresses and in velour-textured florals used for a long tank, layered under a long cardigan dress.

Sue Wong embraced the layering concept with more gusto than anyone, using it with cotton knits and sueded-finished rayons and incorporating scarves and cropped tops luxuriously fringed with silver ornaments. Wong also featured one of the essential fall items: the Mandarin jacket. Other essentials, gleaned from a slide presentation at the California Mart and a quickie show at the New Mart, include:

Vests of every length--and in every fabric, including Art Deco cut-velvet used by Marian Clayden; poet ruffles along necklines and cuffs; riding jackets trimmed in velvet; riding boots with little laces; flat mules; strap platform heels; shiny leather oxfords with substantial heels; Asian-inspired accessories, including skull caps and tassel necklaces; scarves worn as exotic head wraps; layers of bangles, beads and silver jewelry, and rich fabrics.

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