It's time to hold the frills

November 27, 1991|By Pat Morgan | Pat Morgan,Knight-Ridder Newspapers

NEW YORK -- From designers attending a reception in New York for the fashion press given by the Council of Fashion Designers of America, I repeatedly heard the same refrain:

Designers don't dictate anymore. They listen to customers.

So which one of you has been telling them women want to wear crinolines?

I ask because the rest of us would like to find you and express our profound appreciation, perhaps by stuffing several yards of tulle down your throat.

Stiff, frilly petticoats have returned in abundance. Often, they are made of tutu tulle, creating skirts that stick straight out from the hips like electrified hair on the head of a cartoon character.

Occasionally, they are slightly more palatable: made from fabrics such as silk organza, so the skirt moves when the woman wearing it does, and cut shorter than the skirt so they don't show underneath. The effect is gentle boosting, a full look without ballerina warfare.

But still.

There are so few women who can successfully wear petticoats. They are not only impractical, crinolines also make a woman look like she should be taken about as seriously as a Walky Wanda doll.

Consider designer Betsey Johnson, who has maintained a career-long infatuation with crinolines. Johnson showed up at the Council of Fashion Designers reception looking like a bad redux of Baby Jane, in a skirt so wide she could barely move through the standing-room-only crowd at Planet Hollywood (New York's hottest new restaurant, sort of a Hard Rock Cafe for the movies).

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