Something 'Plain' From Paris : Discarded Status Symbols of the '60s Popping Up Again

Times Fashion Editor

The Hermes scarf. The quilted Chanel handbag. The Burberry raincoat. The mink coat. The black-kid glove. The alligator pump. All these discarded status symbols of the pre-mini '60s are popping up again on the streets here as the correct and conventional school of fashion comes back into fashion.

Jean Paul Gaultier spoofed the look in his new blessing to the bourgeois, and now the big-name designers are taking up such forgotten causes as pitifully plain little jersey dresses and perfectly nondescript wool suits.

If there is one designer whose clothes symbolize this just-plain-money look, it's Hubert de Givenchy. The master of understatement, he continues to endear himself to some of the world's wealthiest women by continuing to make the simple things of fashion life--the perfect gray-flannel suit, the right pleat-front trouser, the serviceable little glen plaid tailleur with black-velvet collar and cuffs and the ideal gown to have a ball in--the full-skirted black-satin style with the black-taffeta big-sleeved blouse.

An Exercise in Control

As if to point up the value of looking correct, Givenchy was the only designer of the week to start his show at the correct time. Well, almost. Like his much-heralded couture collection, this Givenchy ready-to-wear collection is an exercise in control. The capes are not too big or too flowing. The strapless black-velvet dresses fit correctly, and the black-velvet scrollwork on the shocking-pink satin skirt has just the right number of curlicues.

If Givenchy symbolizes the right stuff of right-bank fashion, Jacqueline de Ribes is the right bank. Once the favorite customer of Yves Saint Laurent and the darling of such couture mainstays as Valentino and Emanuel Ungaro, de Ribes the designer now does more to update and improve the look of Establishment chic than many of the men who once dressed her.

Her new pants, for example, are just that--new. And flattering. They're made of such fabrics as gray flannel, and they're complete with just the right number of front pleats, but they also have panache--in this case, a high-rise waistband of black velvet. De Ribes, who also designs her own jewelry, lends some of it to her dresses this season, as with a white marocaine gown with jeweled buttons in front and on the sleeves.

Keeping Every Hair in Place

Like Valentino and Sonia Rykiel, de Ribes likes pants for evening. Or, as she prefers, for informal evenings. A typical look includes an exquisite silk-print cutaway jacket with velvet collar worn with a satin blouse and black-satin pants. The blouses all button in the back so they don't have to be pulled on over the head, thereby risking ruin to the other status symbol of the rich: the every-hair-in-place coiffure.

Saint Laurent, the king of right bank fashion orthodoxy, earned a standing ovation for all he's done this season to preserve the status quo. But mixed in with all the paisley knitwear, the turtleneck sweaters, the classic trousers and the quiet little tailored suits were enough minis to cause a little fear and loathing from the cover-your-knees set. Saint Laurent's minis for day include thigh-baring jersey skirts under self-belted jersey tunics or rib-knit tops shown with natural or contrasting hooded scarfs, gauntlet gloves, black opaque stockings and black heels with crossed straps at the vamp. His nighttime minis consist of sequined chemises. This designer also brings back the shoulder-yoked smock jacket, the classic trench coat with bigger and better shoulders, single-breasted belted jackets with shirt sleeves and velvet jump suits.

The strongest part of the collection consists of the serious daytime suits, all hovering around the knees. Most are single breasted, many are black, and one beauty is simplicity personified in gray covert cloth.

Saint Laurent's after-dark look starts with satin paisley dressing-gown dresses lapeled in solid color satin, and it ends with a series of little black dresses--and little black pants and little black suits--worn with rhinestoned gauntlet gloves and/or rhinestoned belts.

Remember when the women who wore Hermes scarfs talked about such things as "a dream of a dress?" Well, that's back too. Saint Laurent's dream dress--the one that stole the show--is a long, red panne velvet dressing gown with petal hemline.

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