The season's new looks are pretty relaxed

EASY DOES IT

February 25, 1996|By Holly Selby

After the chill of winter, the warm breeziness of spring always makes life seem less difficult. This year, fashion is teaming up with the season. Ease and elegance are making a comeback in women's wear, following months of lovely, but highly refined looks.

This spring, the look is feminine and pretty, but relaxed.

From impeccably styled coat dresses in bright colors to short, little shifts in pastel hues, clothes have been pared down to their purest forms. Designs have moved away from high-maintenance looks built on short skirts and cropped or fitted jackets. Two-piece outfits that depended upon buttons, pocket treatments and even bows have become dresses with pure, sculpted lines that hug the body.

Emphasis is on cut and color, rather than elaborate construction.

And think simplicity: Dresses requiring little effort to pull on and little thought to accessorize are everywhere this season.

Elegance made easy: A simple, well-constructed choker is the only adornment for a sleeveless body suit in stretch black material by Dina Var-El and a full, satin skirt by Sully Bonnelly.

The intense color of this A. B. S. dress and its simple, flowing lines will guarantee its wearer a red-carpet welcome. (But who will forget an exit made spectacular by crisscross lace-up detailing on the gown's back?)

It's easy to shine in this icy pale sheath by Chetta B. It subtly hugs the body, and its sculpted lines need no more frills than an attached, sheer scarf.

What could be prettier -- or simpler -- than an A-line party dress in bright coral pink? This little sheath by State of Montana is the ultimate in femininity.

Ease is the buzzword this season, so dresses -- lots and lots of dresses -- are everywhere. Many are being worn with a loosely cut, elongated jacket, and work for both day and night. This pale ensemble is by Calvin Klein.

Mixing old and new is a sure way to make a hit this season. This indigo satin party dress by Nicole Miller combines a '50s party look with a '90s skirt length.

Styled and produced by Pascale Lemaire. Assisted by Brenda Wilson. Hair and makeup by Janice Kinigopoulos at T.H.E. Artist Agency. Modeled by Mary Beth/Nova and Jai/3 West Casting. Flowers by Andrea Stieff for Wildflowers.

SHOPPING GUIDE

Cover and at left -- Red gown with lace-up back, $225, by A. B. S. at Red Garter. Black patent sandals, $183, at Joanna Gray.

Page 7 -- Icy-hued sheath with attached scarf, $198, by Chetta B. at Trillium.

Page 8 -- Black liquid stretch body suit, $155, by Dina Var-El, black satin ball skirt, $495, by Sully Bonnelly, both at Noir. Black peau de soie sandals, $120, by Petra at Joanna Gray. Lee Wolfe choker, $425, at Noir.

Page 9 -- Pale sheath, $950, matching suit jacket, $1,220, both by Calvin Klein at Nordstrom. Pink patent leather slingbacks, $240, by Casedei at Nordstrom.

Page 10 -- A-line dress, $630, by State of Montana at Ruth Shaw.

Page 11 -- Indigo double-faced satin dress, $385, by Nicole Miller at Panache. Silver bow sandals, $74.95, by A'mano at Nordstrom. Chartreuse leather gloves, about $25, at Dreamland.

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