Fashionable revivalsIt may give some women pause to see...


September 28, 1997|By Vida Roberts | Vida Roberts,SUN FASHION EDITOR

Fashionable revivals

It may give some women pause to see the trends of their heyday filed away in the vintage category. The younger set, however, is embracing ideas from the past. Retro inspirations not only saturate today's entire fashion market, but some famous labels from the past have been dusted off and brought back to life.

Wrap star comeback

She made the '76 cover of Newsweek as the female fashion force of the '70s. She sold five million simple wrap dresses in a year and every young mover with fashion ambitions wanted one. She was only 25, but the name of Princess Diane von Furstenberg was a household word.

Things started going sour in the '80s. She sold her name to various licensees and between bad advice and young arrogance she lost control of her empire. Her marriage, too, failed leaving her with children Alexandre and Tatiana.

Now she's back, the wrap dress is back, and Diane von Furstenberg is reclaiming her name and reputation as a designer. This time around she's working from a mature perspective. She also has the creative direction of her daughter-in-law, Alexandra, who is one of the fabulously fashionable Miller heiresses whose comings, goings and weddings have been scrutinized by the fashion and social scribes.

However, it isn't the jet-setters who are the target market. Von Furstenberg believes in pitching her new Diane line to smart women who want a lot of style for their money. She's been on a national round of personal appearances at Saks Fifth Avenue, which has exclusive rights to the label. At the Tyson's Corner store last week, women packed the floor for a chance to meet her.

"Being a fashion icon is very rewarding. I still have my knowledge and experience, but everyone who works around me is younger and that is fun, to be the doyenne," she says. "But my designs not a repeat, they are very modern."

Her wrap dress of today is a silk knit, not the unforgiving cotton jersey some women remember. "You still have to have some kind of body to wear it," she says, "but I have sold it to women of 75

and women in their 20s. Obviously, if you have a bust and no hips it helps."

The dresses are priced around $200. There's irony to revivalism. Von Furstenberg originals fetch around $275 in New York's vintage boutiques.

Back in bloom

Remember when America's blue bloods first unfurled pink and green as their tribal colors? That was in the early '60s when Lilly Pulitzer, the resident bohemian of Palm Beach society, launched her signature prints. For more than a decade Lilly shifts and shorts were the ethnic costume in watering holes from Grosse Point to Gibson Island. Jackie and CeeZee wore them, as did all the other debs and dowagers.

The Lilly Pulitzer label is back, in updated styling but with the same distinctive country club palette for adults and kids. There are even Keds tennies to match some of the prints.

Lillys can be found at Littlefield's in Baltimore and Lemon Twist in Chevy Chase.

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