Open seasonTans begin to fade, the sound of waves crashing...

Inside Fashion

September 12, 1991|By New York Times News ServiceNew York Times News ServiceDallas Morning NewsEdited by Catherine Cook

Open season

Tans begin to fade, the sound of waves crashing on the beach recedes and what you did after the four margaritas that night becomes a memory you would rather forget.

Civilized life beckons. The clothes you wore around the summer house, and the swimsuits and sandals, won't do for Columbus Avenue and West Broadway.

One interim look seen around town is the crocheted sweater or top, worn over a camisole, bra, teddy or bare skin. Crocheted sweaters, dresses and tops were important in recent designer collections as kind of a variation on the see-through look.

At a cocktail party for the Horst photography retrospective in Henri Bendel, a woman wore an interlocking hand-knit "people sweater," with knitted figures of people in multicolored bikinis, by Michael Simon Designs. Over a black velvet skirt or a silk tube top, the look is simultaneously hippy-dippy and elegant. Carolyne Roehm, the svelte socialite designer known for her lavish evening clothes and whirlwind party schedule, is closing her fashion business, she said Monday.

Miss Roehm said she was discontinuing her business "in the wake of a personal family tragedy." She is married to Henry Kravis, whose son, Harrison, died in an automobile accident in Colorado July 13.

Miss Roehm said the death was "the catalyst" in her decision, but added, "There are other personal reasons I don't care to go into."

Miss Roehm opened her design house in 1985, shortly before her marriage to Mr. Kravis, a partner in the leveraged-buyout firm of Kohlberg, Kravis, Roberts & Co.

Although in Mr. Kravis she had a backer with deep pockets, Miss Roehm never parlayed her name into the mix of lower-cost sportswear, accessories and perfume that are the lifeblood of most Seventh Avenue houses. But a lack of financial success was probably not the main factor in her decision to close.

"I don't think they would have hired me if financial considerations were a factor," said Kitty D'Alessio, who was named president of the company this summer. In 1954, Marlon Brando roared onto movie screens and into the American psyche in "The Wild One." Parents shuddered. Teens went wild. And overnight, the black leather jacket became the uniform of bad boys everywhere.

In 1991, Karl Lagerfeld closed his fall Chanel collection with iridescent silk ball gowns topped with black leather jackets and a lode of chunky gold homeboy-cum-Harley jewelry. Editors swooned. Retailers' eyes spun dollar signs. And overnight, the black leather jacket became the season's most-wanted emblem of chic.

With its soft-but-tough leather finish, bulky shape and multitude of angled zippers, the motorcycle jacket has long been a potent fashion symbol.

But fall '91 has its own special vroom. And a whole new gang of easy riders -- from Gianni Versace to Louis Dell'Olio. They come in every color from black to chrome yellow to high-gleam gold, and every material from traditional leather to anything-but satin, velvet, wool, denim and sequins.

The wild-in-the-streets influence hardly stops with jackets. Isaac Mizrahi, Donna Karan and Carmelo Pomodoro all offer black leather biker vests. Franco Moschino cinches a heavy metal logo belt over a winged-heart T and leather-velvet jeans.

And zippers are, well, everywhere. Long-time fetishist Claude Montana slashes them diagonally from shoulder to hem on his stiffly flaring jackets, and races them down the front of his ice-princess evening gowns. At Anne Klein, they adorn everything from the fronts of sliver-slim skirts and backs of tailored jackets to the neck and shoulder seams of oversized turtleneck sweaters and the high, slender heels of black suede pumps.

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