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New York : Paris : Advance Photos From the East Highlight Wide, Billowy Pants and Flowing Skirts : Romantic Tone for Spring Surfaces as European Collections Leave the Runways

Times Fashion Editor

A new, soft mood has hit the fashion world for spring.

After a few seasons of short, tight, theatrical clothes, designers are perceiving that women want to exhale and move freely again.

And that’s not the only good news.

Spring style at European shows, which ended this week, took an elegantly romantic turn.

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It’s more than a matter of the new wide-leg pants and relaxed-looking, unstructured jackets--both of which are big news for spring.

More important is the matter of attitude. It’s languid and relaxed for spring.

Elongated, easy shapes show up in dresses and pants made of supple fabrics that drape and move with the body, rather than cinching it in.

The Chanel, Donna Karan and Claude Montana pantsuits on this page, for example, all have jackets that skim the figure, luxuriously wide trousers, and not a hint of inhibition anywhere.

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Wide-leg pants showed up on almost all the designer runways of Milan, London and Paris. And judging from these preview photos of New York designers’ shows, they will overwhelm the runways there too, when the big spring shows start next week.

But the pants are really fashion synonyms for another surfacing trend: longer, fuller skirts.

It’s a season of options, and the low-calf or ankle-length skirt is destined to be an increasingly popular one, along with pants often cropped at the ankle or mid-calf.

At the farthest extreme of the ease spectrum are the new pyramid-shapes: blouses, dresses and jackets that flare out from neckline to hem, obscuring the figure beneath.

The Issey Miyake pyramid dress shown here envelops the wearer in a sort of protective cocoon. Tent-shape blouses are paired with long, full skirts, shorter slim skirts or pants.

It’s a season of nuance, of small touches that enhance or electrify: Fringe flies from shawls, jackets, sleeves and hems.

Chiffon scarfs trail from necklines or wind around the models’ heads.

Touches of safari chic show up in belts, hats and bellows pockets.

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Colors are muted neutrals or bright.

And the use of soft, often sheer, fabrics is the key to spring: organza, georgette, re-embroidered lace and linen gauze are popular, in addition to paper-weight suedes, silk crepe, washed silk, wool gabardine, silk jersey and cotton knit.

The New York shows kick off on Monday with Marc Jacobs, Bill Blass and Betsey Johnson, among others.


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