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Smaller Silhouette, Revival of Pants Highlight Fashion Show

March 11, 1988

MILAN, Italy (AP) _ Italy’s big league stylists said Friday that five days of presentations of deluxe ready-to-wear clothes for next fall and winter went better than expected.

Strong trends such as the new, smaller silhouette and a revival of pants caught the interest of the fashion traders in Milan. Revitalized classics coupled with the high quality Italian fabrics and workmanship contributed to the success.

Fear of the low buying power of the dollar had caused the Italians to step carefully. The result was a simplified silhouette with plenty of commercially valid, wearable clothes.

Rigid cost control and the use of less opulent materials by some fashion companies kept price tags within reasonable limits. Fashion houses reported price increases of never more than 10 percent above last year’s prices.

Jitters regarding competition from avant-garde foreign designers - the French in particular - also showed signs of subsiding as orders rolled in.

The general good health of Italian fashion houses is demonstrated by their continuous expansion into profitable market sectors outside their ready-to- wear lines. Perfumes, furs, eyeglasses, footwear, pens and watches are just some of the sidelines that stylists sign to promote their name and make money.

Perhaps the most successful part of the Milan shows was the renewed interest in pants.

″Pants are what it’s all about,″ said Kal Ruttenstein, senior vice president-fashion director at Bloomingdales.

Sal Ruggiero, fashion director at Marshall Field and Company of Chicago, called them ″a great option″ until skirt lengths settle down.

Armani, Mario Valentino and Krizia showed them in easy-fitting versions. Ferre, Versace and Genny preferred a tighter look.

Pants frequently were cut high to emphasize the waist.

The new tiny jacket, cropped at the waist and with tight-fitting sleeves, is a keynote of the well-bred trend. Equally important is the tailored city coat modeled on riding jacket lines, flaring out from a fitted top.

Armani showed a winner in Glen plaid and then repeated it in velvet for a formal evening. Chalk-stripe gray flannel was the fabric choice used by other designers for this shape.

On the same refined wavelength are the Dickensian-style frock coats shown by Romeo Gigli, one of Italy’s youngest designers in the top slot. He continues to use his favorite knit fabrics for styles that fit as tight as a second skin, a habit copied by many of his colleagues.

Lots of boots, clinging tight as stockings, came in flat- or high-heeled versions and heralded a return of the footwear after several seasons.

Fake furs enjoyed another revival. Fendi, Byblos and Armani for Emporio produced some of the most beautiful.

Many of the biggest names in Italian fashion will participate in ″Moda Italia,″ in New York. The show promoted by the Italian Trade Commission will run from March 31 to April 17 in New York and then move to other cities.

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