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Thin Is In : Menswear for fall means skinny ties, pants, jackets. Oh, and mohair. And dickeys. Really.

January 28, 1994|FRANK DeCARO | NEWSDAY

The shape of things to come? For fall, it's narrow, as New York menswear designers serve up male waifs with suede-head haircuts in lean jackets, skinny pants and narrow ties.

Oh, but there was more to this week's fashion shows. Military surplus styling. Space-age silver. Side-striped trousers. V-necked sweaters. Long-john leggings. Lean, long coats. Fuzzy mohair. And, the triumphant return of the dickey. Honest.

Here's the skinny.

John Bartlett: When this fast-rising designer took a curtain call after his "Depression Modern" show Monday, some were calling him the future of American menswear. Could be. Big droopy "L'il Rascal" sweaters; elongated "salvation" coats in splotchy, Rorschach-like patterns; black apron-tie-wrapped waistcoats over bibbed shirts and side-striped trousers, and velvet jeans the color of vintage denim. These are cutting-edge clothes that never look silly. He even made the dickey look great--chunky, ribbed and worn over the shirt instead of under. Really.

DKNY/Donna Karan New York: Just back from Florence--where she was the first American designer to show at the influential Italian trade show Pitti Imagine Uomo--Karan put on a slick and exciting presentation with plenty of cool clothes to back up all the multimedia theatrics. Lean suits with slim jackets, skinny trousers, tab-collared shirts and narrow neckties were the newest wave in the DKNY line. Smashing too were silver down jackets and fireman coats, rubber-coated jeans and military-style jackets, and side-striped leggings. Best from her signature collection were suits with nearly ankle-length jackets, rubber-front jersey knits worn as tight as a second skin, and platinum-colored robe coats, cabled turtlenecks and sweat pants--all in Karan's favorite cashmere.

Calvin Klein: V-neck sweaters; texture-rific three-piece suits; flat-front pants; fuzzy-side-out reversed shearlings; long, slim "cigarette" coats, and nary a gimmick as Klein embraced "the enigmatic period of time when Paul Bowles and Jean Cocteau created their most powerful work." The best suits in this tasteful, luxurious collection were three- or four-button models in earth-tone ribbed crepe, gray crepe ottoman or ash-brown striped wool. Cashmere three-button sport coats were plush-toy soft. Tunic-style sweaters--a trendy V-neck preferably--often replaced shirts.

Tommy Hilfiger: Hilfiger embraced several of the season's key trends--most notably the slim silhouette and military surplus styling. To pleasant effect, he turned out slim plaid pants, velvet and velvet-trimmed jackets (some three-quarter length), cargo-pocket fatigues, and navy peacoats with gray blanket stripes at the bottom.

Perry Ellis: Now designed by Richard Haines, the America and Collection lines scored points with military style, back-belted overcoats topping ribbed sweaters and cargo pants, and leather peacoats worn with ribbed sweaters and jeans.

Jhane Barnes: Barnes' appeal is lost on me, but who can argue with success? Her best looks were oversized cardigans called "frock smocks," worn over hand-painted waffle-weave long johns; a gray and oatmeal "baby boucle" sweater jacket worn with sage wool pants, and three- or four-button moire-weave suits with drapey pants.

Boing!: Ari Fruchter and Joe Soto called their latest Boing! show "The Return of Genghis Khan," but there were a few dashes of Chaka Khan in there, too. Their mohair Henley top--one of the season's most winning and offbeat ideas--hit the mohair trend in a rugged, inspired way. Other appealing looks included brown boucle mock turtlenecks, wide gray judo pants and faux Persian lamb-trimmed "Khan" jackets (three-quarter length, drawstring waist).

J.O.E./Joseph Abboud: Brown hooded cable sweaters, side-laced black-leather pullover vests, and band-collared jackets from the J.O.E. line were nice enough. Rust-colored cropped shearling jackets, slim Chesterfield coats, paisley vests under plaid jackets, and black Donegal double-breasted suits highlighted Abboud's signature collection. But the formal-wear finale of men in brocade vests, no shirts and velvet pants (which looked more like night clothes than evening trousers) went right past tired into nightmare territory.

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