Clean designingVelvet slinks are the evening look of the...



Clean designing

Velvet slinks are the evening look of the moment. Across the board, international superdesigner collections include velvet -- cut, panne, crushed and painted. What sets couture velvets apart is not only precious prices, but precious handling. You don't just drop a Gucci or Givenchy off at the neighborhood dry cleaner. In fact, the higher the price, the higher the likelihood that it can't be cleaned at all. No problem for the rich, lean ladies who buy them because they don't spend much time in them or at local rib stand.

Eileen Fisher, who designs well-priced clothes of quality, has gone one better. Her empire velvet dress in silk and rayon costs $250 and can be tumbled in your washing machine. By sticking to her philosophy of simple and practical clothes, Fisher has managed to beat the trend meter and stay timeless for 13 years. In Baltimore the line is carried at Craft Concepts in the Village of Cross Keys, and Nordstrom.

World-famous designers usually build their empires from the top. They show their vision in a collection, it gets rave reviews, the name gains recognition, and next thing you know it's on everything from boxer shorts to paint cans.

Nicole Miller is turning the tables on that cycle. After hitting it big with her imprints on funky ties, cummerbunds, socks, belts and even premium cigars, she is now entering the world of couture where dresses and clients meet in an aura of exclusivity.

Nicole Miller Couture will be limited to 15 styles a season with 25 cuts of each style. The dresses are columns of silk and matte jerseys with hand beading and Swarovski crystal cascades. They will sell from $1,500 to $4,000. Lillie Rubin shops will handle the line. Interested clients can call 800-365-4721 for referrals.

When's the last time you met a tie clasp? They haven't been in since grandpa wrenched his back trying to do the Limbo. Now young guys are picking up on them again in yet another manifestation of retro coolness. Vintage clasps are preferred, but the pencil model by Swank shown here has just the right touch of flash and nerdiness to make it hip. It's from Cohen's Clothiers, a haberdashery that has seen it all come and go in outfitting zTC Baltimore men and boys since 1904. Hold on to those fish ties, guys, they may just become collectibles.

It's the season for cleaning and tossing, which means that thrift stores and nearly-new sales are building up inventory. Just in time comes the definitive guide to junk. "Thrift Score," by Al Hoff, offers an examination of thrifting as an obsession, an appraisal of what's out there and what to do with these "treasures" once you have them at home.

Hoff is the creator and publisher of the "zine" ThriftSCORE, and her tips include shopping etiquette and ideas for dressing up cheapo theme parties that can be pulled together out of $H discards. The $12.50 paperback is from HarperPerennial.

Pub Date: 9/07/97

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