Fashion Facets

REALLY INSPIRED BY ROME

The Vatican Library has issued an exclusive license to design, manufacture and market fine jewelry based on the Library’s vast collection of art, illuminated manuscripts, tapestries, rare coins and medallions. The Vatican Library Collection features 150 styles in 14k and 18k gold and silver, with

precious gemstones. All designs have been approved by the Prefect of the Vatican Library and relate

to specific themes within the library’s collections. The library, established by Pope Nicholas V in 1451, houses one of the richest and oldest collections of manuscripts and early printed books in the world.

The jewelry collection, distributed by Jewelry Brands Network Inc., was introduced in November at Marshall Field’s Chicago and Milwaukee stores.

WASP WAISTED

Goodbye waif and hello waist! Scarlett O’Hara would have felt right at home at the fall-winter haute couture shows in Paris, where the waist reigned supreme and the hourglass shape was definitely back. Designers such as Gianni Versace, Karl Lagerfeld, Valentino and Christian Lacroix offered corsets, bustiers, nipped-in jackets and fairy-tale ballgowns straight from antebellum Tara.

For daytime, designers showed skirts hovering around the so-called “new” length of just above to just hitting the knee; shorter was also in evidence but long for day was shelved, for the moment.

The newest incarnation of the suit was what the French call le smoking, otherwise known as a tuxedo suit, in pastels (especially pink) for day. Pink was hot, in all its incarnations from spun-sugar pale to electric fuchsia. In keeping with the focus on femininity, heels were back and combat boots out. Glamour returned in a big way with Hollywood hair (read: long, tangled, teased and sexy or long, sleek, chignon’ed and sexy) and red movie-star lips.

There always seems to be a body-part-du-jour to expose. The midriff was chosen for fall-winter. It’s supposed to peek out of short jackets or sweaters over pants, or perhaps between the bustier and the bell skirt of a ballgown. It’s as if designers suddenly realized that women who can afford couture clothes generally have excellent, spa-trained figures and want to show them off. Luckily for the masses, a taut midriff can be achieved at home – no spas, no surgery and only a few million ab crunches!

FYI – SEX SELLS…AGAIN

After several years of drab, neutered fashion, sex is back in fashion and in fashion advertising. A recent article in Advertising Age says advertisers are lapping up the change after a starvation diet of grunge fashion and monastery chic. Even fragrance marketers, traditionally in the vanguard of “sex sells” advertising, toned down for the early ’90s. No more. Newest in fashion are push-up bras, short tight skirts, corsets and bustiers, high heels, lush hair and unabashedly sexy, feminine makeup, and the ads for these products are almost as sexy as the products themselves.

Ad Age reports the shift coincides with a decade of progress for women in the workplace. Working women are more confident and there’s a greater acceptance of looking like an attractive woman. Women, says the article, are not afraid to say, “Look at me, I’m beautiful, I’m not afraid to show my body, my face or my mind.” And, after years of dealing with painful sex issues like AIDS, women in the ’90s find kind of a “safe sex” release in alluring clothes.

But the new sexuality does not resemble steamy ads of years past such as those for Calvin Klein’s Obsession perfume, says Ad Age. This time, ads touting casual or promiscuous sex are considered a turnoff. A recent University of Chicago study reports the majority of Americans accept the idea of sex outside marriage, but only within the context of a loving, monogamous relationship.

MORE FROM PARIS

The big accessories news for spring was ladylike looks and lots of color at the Paris Pret a Porter trade show. Women’s Wear Daily reported jewelry making a comeback for spring, after several seasons of relative obscurity. In almost every classification, glamour blended with romanticism was the design feeling of choice. Color was hot, with designers like Catherine Haguest offering gold and enamel, and Sophie Girma showing metal and velour chokers, pearl and chain necklaces and linked cameo bracelets.