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NEW STYLES FOR SPRING: LET THE BUYER REJOICE

NEW STYLES FOR SPRING: LET THE BUYER REJOICE

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Fashion of the people for the people is here. The people have spoken.

The 1990 American fashion revolution has begun.

Designers can't dictate. One hem length is as good as another. A quarter inch will not send a lapel to the consignment shop.Dots and stripes do mix. Red and orange don't fight. Activewear style goes to the ball. Neon-bright, ocean-bottom neoprene dive fashion rises to the top and comes ashore. Golf is the game, and fairway fashions are for anyone with a zest for life. Men wear flowers, and women show off menswear weaves.

Both sexes are coming closer together in their styles. They demand seasonless, lightweight fabrics in basic shapes and quality construction.

Big-name designers, who once thrived on innovation, speak of creativity only as it relates to comfortable classics.

``Fashion is not about a lot of frou-frou,' says Richard Mishaan, 31, designer of men's and women's apparel, who is gaining fame for his ``one-wardrobe dressing' at affordable prices.

``These subtly detailed pieces let you look right, anywhere, anytime,' said the New York designer when interviewed at the Men's Fashion Association previews. Greensboro's Jorges on West Market Street is one of the 500 department and specialty stores carrying these designs that are redefining ``designer dressing.'

The new thinking in fashion, says Jefferson Rives of High Point, ``is playing into our strength: a way of life most Americans relate to and appreciate.' He is president and co-founder of the 8-year-old Ruff Hewn line of sturdy men's and women's sportswear that's comfortable as well as classic.

Manhattan menswear designer Bill Robinson says, ``There is a drifting away from ostentation, a rounding of line and a change in color perception that comes from a new awareness of the environment. Some of my clientele is getting older. They're not as desperate to radiate an image - 'Hey, notice me!' And when you look at what has happened in government and Wall Street during the last decade, there's no way the dressing for success code instills trust.'

He says, ``More and more, clothing is not a matter of what looks good for business. The lines between work and play are blurring. People want to dress up more for their socializing. On the other hand, there are plenty of successful people who do not work in a corporate environment and wear whatever makes them smile. Success no longer comes wrapped in a three-piece suit.'

Today, men and women wear light jackets, camp shirts, cotton sweaters, vests, pleated pants, Bermuda shorts, dusters, washed-silk sportswear, soft and round lightweight raincoats, and farmer's jeans (overalls).

Both have a passion for pull-on jams in the wildest prints, iridescent fabric, big white shirts, fanny packs (bicycle bags), cycling caps, hooded popovers, safari jackets, bikinis, message-bearing T-shirts and tank tops, bandannas, baseball jackets, textured low-down, comfortable shoes and any kind of motif involving the sea.

Also, appealing to both are embroidered touches, hand-painted motifs, fringe, passementerie, suspenders, mesh sea-going ``aqua socks,' bolo ties, patchwork, leather belts with sculpted metal buckles, art deco designs and Bush conservative style.

About 20 years ago, designers Rudi Gernreich and Andre Courreges predicted startling apparel trends for the '90s. They visualized men, women and children as look-alikes in unisex body suits layered with tunics, micro-mini skirts and hoods. They said everyone would snap on a clear plastic bubble-helmet and breathing apparatus to go outside.

They were wrong.

Real '90s men and women insist on variety in the basics and retain their individuality. Their clean-lined classic clothes have become their canvases for making bold, personal strokes with accessories.

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