Ripped-up at retailApocalyptic or "destroy" fashion has...


July 02, 1992|By New York Times News Service In the magazines . . . Chicago TribuneChicago TribuneEdited by Catherine Cook

Ripped-up at retail

Apocalyptic or "destroy" fashion has caused quite a stir in recent seasons on the Paris runway. Maybe all those torn seams, unfinished sleeves and tatty hemlines reflect a kind of grim, postindustrial urban mood.

The ripped-up designs, which have been viewed as a commentary on everything from the victimization of women to the end of fashion, have even influenced the haute couture. But who would ever buy them?

Apparently, lots of people. In the Comme des Garcons boutique at Bergdorf Goodman last week, where the designer Rei Kawakubo's infamous spring collection hung on the racks -- as threadbare and disheveled as Salvation Army rejects -- store executives said the clothes had been selling out.

"Some of the customers wore Chanel," said a sales associate, who added that a simple black wool jacket with a big tear down the front had been an especially good seller, at $740. "One girl who bought it put gold staples on the torn seam to emphasize the rip in an interesting way," he said.

The store also did very well with Tibetan-print vests with unfinished armholes, which is not altogether surprising, since sleeveless shirts and sleeveless denim jackets are hot items at shops like Canal Jean and Urban Outfitters. More baffling would be the success of styles like white cotton T-shirts with inverted seams and holes in the fabric, at $235.

The sales associate said customers had been buying the clothes as "accessory dressing," that is, purchasing far-out pieces as accessories to wear with more reasonable styles.

Among features in July Mademoiselle, the "relationships" column tackles "The Hard-Rock Cachet: Why Models Love Musicians." Among reasons: "Makeup, highlights and tight leather pants are a few things models and rockers have in common." On the deeper side: They both became famous when quite young; initially earned no money for what they're now known for; they're comfortable under media scrutiny, and have nonconformist schedules. The clincher: They see themselves in transition. "Models aspire to be actresses, rock stars aspire to be legends."

On the beauty front: "A trend that's back: coordinated nail and lip colors." More significant: shorter nails. On the fashion front: four pages devoted to hats.

@ Even though his first collection of men's casual clothes -- called J.O.E. -- won't hit the stores until later this month, designer Joseph Abboud is planning to come out with a similar group of "sit by the fire" or "watch the Bulls" clothes for women.

Maybe a "Josephine" collection of weekend wear? No name's been chosen yet, laughed Mr. Abboud, just a target date -- fall '93 -- and an approximate price range -- probably $75 to a high of $600 for leather pieces.

Mr. Abboud said recently that the strong retailer reaction to his men's J.O.E. is what spurred him to think about a relaxed line for women as well. (J.O.E. stands for Just One Earth.)

"Besides, I'm really having a love affair with women's clothes," said the designer who launched his first men's clothing line in 1986 and has been heaped with awards since. (He's the only designer to have received the Council of Fashion Designers of America Menswear Designer of the Year award twice in a row, in '89 and '90).


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