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BY DESIGN : To the Maxi : The Long Skirt Is Back, but the Ankle-Grazing, Big-Belted Style Has Been Replaced by a Shorter, Spare Look

November 16, 1995|CINDY LaFAVRE YORKS

A modern maxi is making the scene. Spotted mostly on teen-agers and young women, it's not the staple it was for Rhoda Morgenstern--more like an occasional departure from minis and knee-grazing lengths.

"Even though their revival is part retro, it's being done in a much more modern way than it was 20 years ago," says June Rau, regional fashion coordinator for Nordstrom. The new versions are more fluid--hugging the hips, then flaring gently downward. Some styles even rest on the hips, a nod to the low-slung '70s that will continue for spring '96.

Drapey fabrics including rayon and acetate in floral prints are easy to come by now in stores, but as the holidays approach they will give way to supple velours in solid jewel tones. Some maxis feature belt loops for clunky waist-cinchers.

The terminology is different in this retro go-round, too; the '90s rendition, priced from $40 to $100 in catalogues and department stores such as Nordstrom, is known simply as a long skirt. Also gone are the strands of beads and pendant necklaces that accessorized the '70s look.

J. Crew shows its rayon floral-printed skirt with a zipper up the back with a spare, tucked-in crew neck in merino wool. The catalogue Tweeds pairs its sumptuous velour maxi with a long tunic in the same fabric. And Allen Allen, a Los Angeles-based mail-order company that also operates ready-to-wear boutiques, tops a woven beige houndstooth skirt with a jeans-inspired front with a no-frills, short-sleeved fitted cotton cashmere sweater. The ultra-casual skirt has been a bestseller for the company.

"People seem to really understand the look," says Kari Jones, national sales manager for Allen Allen. It's "groovy without really trying," she adds, and part of a larger trend.

"Everything is either very short or very long," Jones says. "For some reason, it's all about extremes this season, and moving into spring, we're going to see a lot more of that."

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