Fashion turns sexy and sexist?


PARIS -- Sexy fashion has snake-hipped back to Paris.

The liberation of women from being sex objects went out the window in the 10 days of the 1983 Paris spring-summer and ready-to-wear shows for international store buyers and press that ended Thursday.


Tight skirts with a Marilyn Monroe wiggle, skirts slit up front-back-sides, tops like wired brassieres, bareback sweaters, strapless gowns, tight waists, necklines cut to the point of no return, bare navels, see-through dresses ...

The revolutionary turn to sensuous styles meant 1983 will be the year of the derriere.

Some shows had an 'oo-la-la gay Paree' mood of the naughty Paris girl under a lamp post. The French fashion press called the look 'la starlette.'

It could be fun fashion for some women, a put-down for other anti-sexist women.

Yves Saint Laurent, still the top all-round designer, launched the new body-hugging silhouette in his July high fashion couture show. That signaled the demise of the ample look and the other designers stepped into line.


Saint Laurent confirmed the curves in his ready-to-wear show last week -- cinched waistlines, skinny and short dresses or tight skirts with loose tops or peplums or jackets jutting over the hip.

Even the once-classic Chanel salon turned sexy. The tighter and shorter skirts, see-through dresses and tons of costume jewelry prompted the Paris newspaper Le Figaro to protest the collection as 'a la Americaine.'

Both Saint Laurent and Thierry Mugler slyly put two pockets smack on the rear of tight skirts.

Karl Lagerfeld's 'going away look' included a short, curve-caressing evening gown with a huge guitar of sequins on the back. In fact, he said, his entire show was based on the (hourglass) guitar shape.

Skirts buttoned or zipped up the back at Dorothee Bis, Thierry Mugler, Saint Laurent. Knitted skirts at Sonia Rykiel gripped the hips and broke into ruffles below.

Montana, who gave the most exciting show of the new, young ready-to-wear designers, abandoned his football-player-sized outfits and adopted the waist-conscious, shaped suit and dress with that fanny interest.

New designer Herve Leger, 25, rejuvenating the Chanel house, shocked Chanel lovers by draping the classic her gold chain belt - over the rear.

And 1983 also will be the year of the belt.


The feminine, sexy look means the waist is cinched to the gasping point, and bending exercises had better start now.

Lagerfeld and Saint Laurent squeezed dresses in half with wide, corselet leather belts. The Dior and Guy Laroche salons used two narrow belts, one drooping sensually on the hip. Wide leather sashes and wide wrappings of fabric cupped the rear at Kenzo Takada.

Hubert de Givenchy showed his new suit shape, nipped in at the waist, and full-skirted dresses with those wide, tight belts.

Other evidences of what women's lib militants might call the sexist look: Montana's skin-tight long black suede dress, Mugler's stretch velour dresses in bright linens that clung to the curves, Dorothee Bis' wallpaper-tight dresses with bodices cut like wired brassieres, Kenzo's loose breast-exposing tops.

All was not the Folies Bergere.

Emanuel Ungaro's wrap skirts and curved jackets, Saint Laurent's black tuxedo coat-dress and dozens of other items, Lagerfeld's tube knits with 1930 jabots will fill their world-wide boutiques.

Hemlines in the collections ranged from knee to low mid-calf for daytime, with more short evening gowns than floor-touchers. The silhouette was divided between the tight and skinny and the full but firmly belted.

Colors leaned heavily on black and white plus ice cream and rainbow hues. Favorite fabrics were cotton, linen, organdy, knits, satin, silk.


The most notable accessory was sunglasses. The idea was pinched from the current street craze of Paris girls wearing then indoors, nights and in the rain.

The most talked about show was not one by a Paris creator, but by one of six visiting Tokyo-based Japanese designers invited in an unusual gesture by the French to show their wares.

Rei Kawakubo of the Comme des Garcons firm stunned the audience by draping gray tatters full of holes on mannequins with hair drooping in all directions and blobs of lipstick on one eyebrow or cheek.

They looked like street fighters in a slum, victims of a nuclear war or females beaten up by men in the final insult to women of the Paris 'sex object' fashion parade.

But Kawakubo said she had in mind an anti-fashion 'natural look' with pre-washed and stretched fabrics, unset hair and lipstick any place a liberated woman felt like putting it.

Although these Japanese designers compete with the Paris creators, the designers' association plans to invite even more foreigners from Italy, the United States and other countries since 'Paris is the fashion capital.'

Adv for Sunday Oct.

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