Wittiest Collection to Date : Mugler's Homage to the Psychedelic '60s

Times Fashion Editor

The go-go girls of the psychedelic '60s dance into the fashion spotlight here as designer Thierry Mugler brings back beehive hairdos, Pucci prints and those ring-a-ding pants made famous by Sonny and Cher--bell-bottoms.

In the wittiest collection of the fall season to date, Mugler spoofs the '60s with charm, certainty and a sense of humor sadly missing from the Milan and London collections. Unlike New York designer Stephen Sprouse, whose Rudi Gernreich retrospectives are high-fidelity fashion replays of that decade, Mugler proves that it's possible to be inspired by the '60s without repeating them verbatim.

Mugler's Technicolor teddies are fluorescent fake furs in such shock shades as chartreuse and fuchsia. His Pucci prints appear as bell-bottomed jump suits, not as silk jersey uniforms for the rich. His beehives are overstated wigs, not serious salutes to back-combing. And his minis get a new twist--matching thigh-tight knee-shorts.

Mugler, whose stirruped ski pants from last year have set off something of a fashion avalanche, makes his new bell-bottom trousers much more accommodating than their predecessors from the '60s. Many of them can be worn both as straight-legged pants and as flares thanks to hemline zippers that open to form bells or close to form conventional pantlegs.

That other '60s invention--the floor-sweeping maxi coat--looks headed straight for the winter of '85 in Mugler's jersey version with snap-front closing. Unsnapped, it reveals above-the-knee vinyl boots and minis.

In addition to the mosaic-like prints inspired by Emilio Pucci, Mugler shows a new roadstop print complete with telephones and crossed knives and forks, and a pop/op graphic straight out of a Victor Vasarely drawing.

The attitude throughout is a kind of updated "Laugh-In" approach to dressing that makes all the super-serious message clothes from London's Bodymap and Katharine Hamnett look passe.

Fashions for the downtrodden would seem to have had its day.

Even the Japanese designers who turned rags into a rag-biz rage have this season turned away from their more sauvage looks and seem well on their way to discovering the body. Rei Kawakubo's models at Comme des Garcons, who shocked the fashion world two years ago with their bruised and battered faces, have given up their post-atomic scars and sores for a clean-scrubbed look with just a hint of lip gloss and some heavy eyebrow penciling. Speaking through an interpreter, Kawakubo calls her new look "clear, direct and straightforward." Aside from jackets whose left sides don't know what their right sides are doing, there's a strong feeling of shape in this collection. She has many new synthetic knits, panne velvets and net-like chiffons that reek of femininity.

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