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Ready-to-Wear Fall-Winter ’96: Youth Leads Off In All Directions

March 11, 1996

PARIS (AP) _ It was a day for youth Monday, as fall ready-to-wear collections opened with shows by young designers competing for the country club set as well as yuppies.

``When you show in the Louvre spaces, you can’t fool around,″ said 30-year-old Frenchman Frederic Molenac after his show at the Carrousel high-fashion runways under the Louvre Museum.

Broodingly dark or luminous, and at times phosphorescent, Molenac’s contemporary take on clothes is to base them on new synthetics _ super-smooth Lycra pants and metallic-looking long or short skirts.

Puffy ``pneumatic″ silk fabrics should appeal to the young set in cropped jackets with flared sleeves over satin lacquered skirts.

Darks and beiges highlighted with orange rubbery neoprene _ say in a tulip-wrap top over slim silvery voile pants _ look apres-surf as well as disco-worthy.

At a post-Star Trek finale, these cyber-kids wore off-one-shoulder or bare-midriffed stretch and neoprene outfits, sometimes dragging trains.

Molenac will next show for the house of Gres.

No frills graced Korean designer Jin Teok’s clothes, but they were appealing in a modern way. Shortish A-line dresses and tunics over pants, fuzzy knits with flower appliques, flared cut or panne-velvet pants accompanied khaki battle jackets.

These were followed by hot orange pantsuits, shiny chocolate leather pants paired with an orange sweater and high-waisted jackets.

The 10 days of 86 shows and 30 showroom presentations will take a few thousand buyers and press all over town, from the comfortable Louvre Carrousel theaters to rustic spaces in the lowdown parts of town especially favored by Yohji Yamamoto and Jean-Paul Gaultier.

Ready-to-wear is a $ 1.3-billion business for France and people from all over the world want a piece of it. About half are French or French-based firms, and the rest from abroad, many from the Far East.

The red-light Pigalle-Barbes district was the venue for several of the younger shows.

In the tatty, once-plush Trianon theater below Montmartre, Isabel Marant gave a show to a small crowd lapping up ice cream as well as her clothes.

A kind of pastiche of darkest Africa _ witch doctor masks and all _ plus Islamic traditional ideas, with long skirts, wrapped head dresses and modesty prevailing, it was a fine example of originality merging with ethnic ideas.

Her dark, pinstriped jackets, gathered or belted in back and fastened in front by a sleek safety pin, looked nice over long, full skirts. Fake Mongolian lamb coats could be fun for some.

The wool jersey minis with flared skirts would be recommended to anybody who can wear them. Dressing up with Miss Marant means silky gilt prints on dark _ nice in sleeveless long dresses, pants, jackets. White and tailored outfits sizzle here, whipped up with hot-colored silky blouses.

Her color sense was lively, combining ochre, shocking pink, Bordeaux, and burnt orange in various textures, from woolly to silky.

``I studied up on the ethnic things,″ said Miss Marant, 28, after the show.

Outside, in the Trianon lobby, Christophe Lemaire (also thirtyish) placed his guests on benches and wafted models out in dull Seventies’ replay clothes, picking up magazines as in some second-class dentist’s office.

Tricolored knit mini-tunics in turquoise, fluorescent chartreuse and black or white would make good cheerleader outfits.

Meanwhile, Jacques Mouclier, president of the French Fashion Federation’s governing body, announced the government had approved a $1-million grant for fashion aspirants _ about $100,000 to $125,000 per person per year.

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