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FASHION : THE FALL COLLECTIONS / PARIS : New Directions : Jackets Are Long, Sweaters Are Short and Kimonos Are Everywhere--Inside and Out

March 07, 1994|MARY ROURKE | TIMES FASHION EDITOR

PARIS — Hollywood has come to town, that much is clear the minute anyone in the fashion business checks into their hotel. A stack of invitations awaits. This season, a separate note explains that director Robert Altman and the cast and crew of his latest movie, "Pret-a-Porter," will be in the audience as well.

This is Altman's film about the fashion business. In it, Sophia Loren plays an overdressed widow, Lauren Bacall and Sally Kellerman act as magazine editors and Kim Basinger covers fashion for television. They made their first big entrance Sunday morning at the Christian Lacroix show. Basinger got whistles, Loren got applause.

What is Hollywood's take on fashion editors?

"I was hoping you'd show me," Kellerman said.

At this point, it's easier to say how Hollywood might dress fashion types. Loren wore a huge black hat. Bacall had a floral chiffon scarf trailing over her shoulders. Kellerman wore clean green sportswear. And Basinger's flashy silk jacket was embroidered across the back. Not a bad approximation.

With all this movie business going on, it's easy to forget the fashion news. But for the first time in more than a year, a clear new direction emerged in Paris style.

* Kimono coats are a new look. Some are embroidered or painted silk, to be worn under or over traditional wool tweeds. Others are colorful wool jersey to wear with long dark dresses or skirts.

* Jackets are at an all-time long, extending to just inches above the knees. Most designers show them with pants or ankle-length skirts, the favored length for fall.

* Skirts tend to be long, but coats and coat dresses look newest at knee length. They go with tall boots, or tights and ankle boots.

* "Baby" sweaters, cropped at the ribs, found a place in almost every show. Worn over ankle-length dresses, they offer another fresh look.

* Colors are dark and in mineral tones. Deep blue, gray, green and brown dominated most collections.

Lacroix premiered "Bazar," a line to be priced about 50% lower than his main collection. Raw-edged leather vests; big, blue denim jackets, and zip-up cardigan sweaters, all with a weekend casual feeling, took up the first part of his show.

In his more expensive line, he layered silk kimonos over velvet vests to wear with pants or long skirts. His jackets in silk damask or patchwork tweeds extended close to the knees.

In Dries Van Noten's show, dark floral print dresses drifted to ankle-length, with baby cardigans on top. Thick-heeled pumps, or chunky oxfords, added to the thrift-shop feeling. The clothes captured a new way of romantic dressing that several young designers have been working on. Everything in this collection appeared to be worn and softened.

A rising star among newer talents in Paris, Van Noten started his business in his native Antwerp in 1985. He came to Paris several years ago, adding his name to the list of avant-garde Belgians who show here. Any woman who wears designer labels and doesn't like long skirts will find a soul mate in Claude Montana. His fall line is filled with short, A-line skirts. Suits in his collection had high-waisted wrap skirts and pyramid-shaped jackets, widest at the hem. He mixed red and black flannel and completed outfits with over-the-knee boots.

Left to himself Montana would have been happy showing nothing but white clothes this season. White silky parkas with matching minis, white tights and off-white chunky boots were one snow-toned idea.

Yohji Yamamoto's fitted, navy blue coat dresses with double rows of tiny buttons were the single best item in his show. His kimono coats in pastel layers, worn over long dark dresses, offered an unusual dash of color.

Rei Kawakubo, for Comme des Garcons, went back to some of her earliest ideas in a collection of dark pin-striped jackets and plaid dresses or skirts. She mixed very structured and nearly shapeless pieces.

Pin-striped jackets with raw hems were tucked into skirts that looked like fabric fresh from the bolt worn wrapped around the body. Pin-striped camp shirts tucked into long skirts with waistbands of fabric rolled to a thick wad further showed off Kawakubo's idea of playing structured and soft shapes against each other. White velvet apron dresses, tied in the back and worn over long white velvet skirts, were a graceful evening look.

Next: The collections of Vivienne Westwood, Karl Lagerfeld and Christian Dior.

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