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FASHION / VIDEO VOGUE : Basic Black Patent Leather

June 29, 1995|MAUREEN SAJBEL

Michael Jackson shed his paramilitary uniforms, Janet Jackson left behind those steamy, sensual outfits, and Madonna ditched her undies and haute couture.

What they're all wearing in their newest videos is black patent leather--or stretch fabrics that mimic it. It works for the bad girls and boys of video, but on a sweltering L.A. summer day it would have all the appeal of a car seat in the sun.

In "Scream," the stylized, angst-filled, black-and-white spaceship video, the Jackson siblings wear tight, custom-made, black spandex jeans with the look of patent; cone-stitched shirts and clunky patent boots. They change into silver and white spandex jeans, jackets and fur-trimmed coats.

The fabric that imitates patent is called "wet-look spandex," says Michael Bush, who worked with Dennis Tompkins to make Michael Jackson's wardrobe for the video. "Until you touch it, you'd swear it was patent." Bush found this ingenious four-way stretch substitute at L.A.'s International Silks & Woolens. Real patent leather isn't used for dancers' clothes, he says, because "if you sweat into leather it would shrink like O.J.'s gloves."

Although the clothes in "Scream" are custom-made, similar things can be found in boutiques on Melrose and at Fred Segal Melrose, Bush says. Maxfield will have high-end patent (and its imitators) for women this fall from designer Patrick Cox and Costume National.

In Madonna's "Human Nature," an S&M satire, the pop diva romps in glossy second-skin outfits by designer Alberto Riviera of Body Worship, a shop in New York City. She first appears in a shiny black PVC catsuit with a built-in corset, stiletto patent boots by Karl Lagerfeld. Then it's on to a black patent leather tuxedo tail coat with a schoolteacher length skirt, and finally a bikini made of glossy black vinyl that has the shine of patent. Her female dancers wear Paco Rabanne suits and boots with Lagerfeld vests; the guys are in Helmut Lang pants and custom shirts.

While Madonna's clothes were made-to-measure and expensive, the shop sells off-the-rack PVC catsuits for $180-$240, and vinyl bikinis for $85. The coat can be special-ordered for $800. Body Worship: (212) 614-0124 or (800) 535-5198.

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