Can real women bear fashionable bareness?

November 07, 1990|By Gwen Salley Schoen | Gwen Salley Schoen,McClatchy News Service

NEW YORK The wrong people have been in court fighting obscenity charges. The 2 Live Crew and their album, "As Nasty as They Wanna Be," seem tame compared to what's being shown on the runways for spring '91.

The Rebecca Moses collection revealed the first bareness when the designer sent a model down the runway wearing a transparent wedding gown. This peek-a-boo fashion trend has continued through every collection, even from designers like Bill Blass, from whom you would expect more discretion. He played the now-you-see-it, now-you-don't game with lace capri pants.

All week long, models have been struggling with spaghetti straps that wouldn't stay up and shorts that wouldn't stay down.

This leaves the average woman with the absurd question: How bare does she wanna be?

Every collection so far has shown plenty of flesh, mostly through filmy big shirts worn sans lingerie. Moses, Eleanor Brenner, Carmelo Pomodoro and Basco all had big sheer shirts with shorts, pants or miniskirts. Calvin Klein's collection included unlined, beaded chiffon, and Christian Francis Roth bared bosoms under filmy chiffon floats.

The Basco collection was irresponsible. Models wore skirts so short their underwear showed. One model's skirt even had a slit up the back something that brought a few chuckles from the audience and catcalls from photographers. And these people are professionals. Imagine what would happen if a woman walked down the street back home dressed that way.

pTC Then there's Basco's suit with a 15-inch long skirt and a blouse too short to tuck in. Where would you wear such a thing? Not to work, that's for sure. Much of this will be toned down by the time it reaches the racks. Basco probably will add an inch or two to its skirts, Moses probably will line her wedding gown, and Roth's floats will have a camisole underneath. A lot of this bareness is just for show. Still, some designs will turn up in the stores the way they're shown, leaving consumers to figure out the solutions.

All bareness aside, what's left is still not going to work for the average woman. How many spaghetti-strap slip dresses does she need? How many women over the age of 25 actually look good in a slip dress? Another problem is fit. When a skirt is so tight that it wrinkles across a model's lap and inches up as she walks, it's definitely not for the poor consumer. The hot item right now is the cat suit, which is actually a long leotard, as shown in the Gordon Henderson collection. Why would you want one for summer? And, if you have the body for one, where would you wear it? Certainly not to exercise class. At several hundred dollars each, they're too expensive to sweat in.

And that brings us to design flaws. Like strapless dresses that didn't stay up, straps that slipped off shoulders and skirts so tight they scooted up to waistlines. Carmelo Pomodoro's models had problems with scoop-neck blouses scooped a bit too deep.

These are just bad designs. It's time designers took note: The average woman wants a blouse that tucks in, a dress for work that won't get her the wrong kind of attention and a skirt she can wear to the grocery store without suffering frostbite in the freezer section. Sure, a see-through blouse is fun once in a while, and short skirts are fun on a Saturday night, but not every day and only in the right company.

It's time to get real.

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