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Wrinkled and Muted Menswear for Spring

August 02, 1993|FRANK DeCARO | NEWSDAY

NEW YORK — Boy George's painted toenails were a big deal in Calvin Klein's front row. The Hare Krishnas on John Bartlett's runway looked mysterious and chic, but you still wouldn't want them to bother you at the airport. And, then there was that fashion photographer who turned up at Donna Karan's menswear show with the sleeves ripped out of his blazer and safety-pinned back on.

He grabbed some attention, dressed like a jerk.

Most everything else about last week's menswear shows, however, was considerably less colorful. Basically, if you can get worked up about an untucked band-collar shirt, you can get worked up about spring.

Natural is the byword of menswear in '94. Colors are light enough to prompt such pressing questions as, "What are we calling that, oatmeal or gruel?" Stripes are popular. The fitted suit is the newest jacket shape. Tissue linen is the fabric of choice. Wrinkles are OK . . . on clothes and on models. Off the runway, Converse All Stars are the shoes of the moment.

The best collection was Italian photographer Fabrizio Ferri's line for Industria. The collection, for men and women, was full of the kind of clean minimalist clothes you could wear exclusively and never look less than well-dressed. (Certainly, they looked good on such notables as Isabella Rossellini, Martha Stewart and photographer Mary Ellen Mark, all of whom modeled in the show.)

Industria's softly textured jackets topped matching V-neck tops and wide, drawstring pants with all the ease and comfort of pajamas. Pouch-backed vests worked shirtless. Band-collar suit jackets were striking. And, square-collared knits were the best tank tops this side of Dolce & Gabbana's signature versions.

Always nudging fashion forward, John Bartlett scored with a "Noble Savage" collection of quirky, fashion-y menswear fun. His ultra-nubby "fleabag" jackets topped batik shirts and canvas-patched work pants; "schoolboy" blazers with detachable collars sticking over the lapels topped sheer gauze pajama pants.

His black linen pieces were dipped in bleach, returning the garment to its natural undyed color at the hems. "Crusoe" shirts with frayed sleeves were perfect for casual Fridays. And, then there were the dashikis. Bravo to Bartlett for bringing back these funky retro tops. Besides, what better to wear with platform Birkenstocks?

Calvin Klein's collection, less idea-meaty than usual, brought the fitted suit to American shores from Europe, where it's all the rage.

His suits button high on the chest, whether single- or double-breasted, and looked sporty worn with camp shirts. The idea of putting half the shirt collar over the lapel and tucking the other half under was just too cloying a styling trick. For those who like it loose, Klein's burlap unconstructed sport coats worked well over linen trousers and camp shirts. His V-neck linen sweaters looked great over tank tops. And, putting linen camp shirts under tuxedos was a deliciously nonchalant pairing.

Donna Karan's drapey, wide-legged "marine pants" made for some of the season's most covetable suits and tuxedos. Karan continued to make a case for skirts on men with a black Jacquard "evening pareo" and, for day, checked or striped pareos. She was good for suede mesh tank tops and crew-necks, linen burlap jackets, striped band collar jackets, and, in her more rugged DKNY collection, a blanket striped cardigan sweater worn over a blazer and linen overalls.

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