Spring Hemlines Slant a Little Off Kilt and Kilter

Times Fashion Editor

Spring shows got off to an asymmetrical start here as Nino Cerruti showed his collection to buyers and the press.

The designer’s long and short jackets have the usual elegant swagger to them, but this season they are poised over an array of skirts with hemlines that slant up on one side and down on the other. Or else, hemlines that are shorter in back than in front. One skirt starts below the knee in front but curves above it in back, where a bustle-like puff of fabric adds further rear interest. Even some of Cerruti’s blouses have asymmetrical hemlines, starting just below the bosom on one side and dangling down to the hip on the other, effectively baring one-half of the midriff at front and back.

Suits With Shorts

The designer also shows suits with shorts instead of skirts, and pants that look like versions of those palazzo pajamas Dinah Shore used to wear on TV.


After the show, Cerruti said he likes the bustle-back effect so much that he intends to build his entire fall collection on that theme.

Thursday morning the foreign contingent awoke to find that while they were at the Cerruti event, the French fashion industry was elsewhere, watching John B. Fairchild become a chevalier of the French Legion of Honor. Fairchild, publisher of Women’s Wear Daily, the New York-based fashion industry newspaper, was honored for his role in promoting French fashion. American journalists were not invited.

The fashion crowd also awoke Thursday to a general strike in Paris, which paralyzed the transportation system and caused designer Thierry Mugler to reschedule his show for another day. Rei Kawakubo’s collection for Comme des Garcons went ahead as planned. It was not particularly spring-like in design concept or color, but some wonderful ideas emerged. Kawakubo opened with baggy black chiffon shorts glittering with black sequins, shown below simple white silk overshirts. With these, models wore black opaque stockings and white shoes.

The designer progressed to black suits with blocks of the same sequined chiffon fabric inserted at various places on the jacket. Some sequined inserts went around the torso, others dangled from one side. The designer’s daytime jackets, in cream, navy or black, often had fluttering ripples of fabric instead of lapels. Many of these were short in front and long in back, held close to the body by belts. Accompanying skirts had asymmetric hemlines.


Some of the designer’s simplest dresses and jackets hung away from the body and had points of fabric dangling down at various spots. Attached at the bottom of these points were large, clear crystals, which looked as if they had been taken from French chandeliers. Least summery of all were Kawakubo’s velvet chiffons in wine or black. These were shaped into blouses with asymmetrical bottoms and into shorts, dresses and skirts. The only pale color in the collection was cream.

Yohji Yamamoto also majored in dark shades for spring. Navy, black, deep purple and brown showed up in his line, along with a group of cottons in robin’s egg blue.

Yamamoto likes pants, many of them shaped gaucho style and cropped just above the ankle. A panel of fabric wraps around one leg of some versions, giving them the look of part skirt, part trousers. Some of the most attractive pants and skirts had bib tops, under which small T-shirts were worn. Skirts, pants and shorts often featured asymmetrical appendages of fabric in the designer’s usual style.

Skirt of Madras Plaid

Unusual was his skirt of patchwork Madras plaid that hitched up in back, down in front and featured puffs of fabric that were folded origami-style. Most unusual suit jackets were the elongated, shapely, double-breasted affairs that had no tops, and left the shoulders bare above portrait necklines that stood away from the body. This effect was achieved by the use of vertical boning placed through the midsection, so that the jackets stayed upright on the body without the shoulders to anchor them there. So far there have been no frivolities or flowers to welcome spring in Paris.