Designers revel in daring color combinations

ELSA KLENSCH'S STYLE

October 27, 1994|By Elsa Klensch | Elsa Klensch,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

Q: I've watched your show for years, and one thing that continues to amaze me is the different colors the designers combine. How do they do it? I'm retiring to Florida, and I feel I would look younger if I experimented more with color.

A: Designers choose the colors of their collections from the fabrics that they see each season. That's the first part of putting the collection together, and that's a part they love.

New Yorker Bill Blass is one of the great colorists, and here's what he has to say:

"Color is the most fascinating aspect of fashion. I try to mix the unexpected with a sense of spontaneity. Certain neutrals are always excellent foils for subtle color.

"So I play with my fabric swatches, trying different colors together to see what looks the freshest and most exciting. It's all a matter of experimentation."

And one final word of advice from the designer: "Always dare."

Q: I've loved clothes for as long as I can remember. When I married 28 years ago, I was lucky enough to get a husband who encouraged me to look fashionable and to collect designer pieces.

But now our life is more simple, and I want to do something about my collection. Should I try to have pieces updated? Or should I give them to someone?

A: Unfortunately for women like you who appreciate good clothes, everything old is not new again.

There are historical comebacks -- like the '70s bell bottoms that we saw on the runways a few seasons ago. But (and it's a very big "but") the new styles are nothing like the old. They are made in different fabrics with new colors and new textures by totally updated technology.

I asked Dorothy Twining Globus, who heads the museum at New York's Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). She said you may have real vintage items that would be suitable for display and study at the FIT or another fashion institution.

She added, however, that her museum has closets overflowing with pieces it can't use.

"If you think your clothes might fit in with a museum collection, send a photo to us and we will let you know if we want to add it. Please, just a photograph -- not the clothes.

"For those pieces that are not collection items, how about donating them to a favorite charity?"

Q: Is it OK to wear large prints when you are a size 16? I bought a blouse and skirt covered with soft pink and cream cabbage roses.

My daughter says I'm just too big for it. What do you think?

A: I agree that an overall bold pattern can be a bit overwhelming in a 16. I went for advice to Tamotsu, designer for The Forgotten Woman, a chain of stores that features larger sizes. He said you were wise to buy a two-piece dress. "It will not be hard to find NTC solid skirt to wear with the blouse. It will not look as busy, so you will look slimmer," he said. "Then you can look for a solid tunic to go with the skirt."

Elsa Klensch is style editor for Cable News Network.

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