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FASHION / SENSE OF STYLE : Let Your Coordination Be Your Guide

February 22, 1996|MIMI AVINS | TIMES FASHION EDITOR

For the past few years, matching shoes and handbags were on fashion's out list, right up there with blue eye shadow and acid-washed jeans. The good black purse paired with black shoes seemed so limiting, so uncreative, so safe. How much more daring a woman appeared when she wore navy leather loafers with a honey suede shoulder pouch, or brown patent pumps with a green lizard Kelly bag.

This spring, sets of shoes and bags are in the stores again. Maybe all those conservative little '50s dresses and prim suits demand the propriety lent by leather goods that seem to follow the rules. But I feared an anti-consumer plot, a nefarious plan to make women purchase a purse to go with every new pair of shoes.

Among the leather moguls aboard the matching bandwagon are Bottega Veneta and Manolo Blahnik. But since designers don't dictate to women as authoritatively as they once did, matching shoes and bags are not a requirement for the well-dressed.

Los Angeles-based Charles David has pearlescent leather and metallic patent shoes and bags in its Century City, Westside Pavilion, Santa Monica and Beverly Center stores. "Customers are buying matching colors, but not necessarily the same textures," a company representative said. "And they're buying pearlescent leather bags embossed with mock crocodile patterns as items."

OK, I get it. It wasn't cool to match for a while. Now it's OK to match or not. Some days, coming up with those adventurous, harmonious but not too deliberate-looking combinations made my head ache. So in the words of Martha Stewart, who knows everything there is to know about living, I presume, this new latitude is "a good thing." By the way, blue eye shadow is back too.

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Beauty Tip: The language of the beauty industry is often as intriguing as the products, so when Audrey Mogel of Yves Saint Laurent began to wax poetic on the phone about the "self-adapting pigments" in the Paris-based company's Semi-Loose Powder (for semi-loose women?) I asked for a translation. "Those are ingredients that neutralize the color," she said.

I had noticed that the No. 3 Saffron Powder didn't turn orange, as peachy powders do, nor was it too pasty or pink. Mogel confirmed that Saffron is one of the company's bestsellers because it flatters almost any skin tone. (Asian women are an exception; they usually choose pink-tinted powders.)

Many of the makeup colors being touted for spring are in white and silvery tones, a fine palette to experiment with for evening but a far cry from the natural look popular among women who simply want to look pretty. Chanel's new Matte Pressed Powder compact in banana is, like No. 3 Saffron, a mellow yellow that looks a little scary in the pot but terrific on the face. "Most complexions have yellow undertones," explained Guy Lento, Chanel's director of makeup and training. "So yellow seems to warm up the skin and lend a natural glow."

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Stupid Diet Tricks: Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the kitchen, GQ promises, on the cover of its February issue: "Lose 15 Lbs. This Week." Although the magazine publishes appropriate disclaimers, it endorses a crash diet as a nifty way to get svelte fast for a class reunion. Women's magazines have wised up and no longer feature such unrealistic regimens. How depressing to think that it's now the men's turn to diet their way into eating disorders.

* Sense of Style is published Thursdays.

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