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1989: Tradition Reborn

Times Fashion Editor

It’s time for the style-setters to strut their visionary skills, predicting trends for the year ahead. But those who usually prognosticate with ease aren’t so certain this time. Especially not in fashion.

After a year in which poufs, minis, status labels, high-price clothes and designer-dictators all bit the dust, no one’s making book on what will happen next. Even clothing designers don’t want to talk new clothes. Instead they talk of love, marriage, children, quality products, service with a smile, traditional values, handcrafted objects, spirituality.

In other words, everything old seems new again. Especially to the thirty-something set, who are finally old enough to remember and compare. Instead of looking forward, they’re looking back, in a fit of nostalgia for what George Bush calls a kinder, gentler time.

They focus on home and heart, meat and potatoes, large families around big kitchen tables, sweater sets with pearls, sensible shoes, serious suits, continuity, integrity, security.

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Cocooning is too cute a word to describe their homing instinct, which is more like protective burrowing against . . . who knows what? Material things still matter, but they are not bought to impress.

Here are predictions for ’89 from some visionary types as gleaned by The Times’ fashion team.

Herb Fink, owner of Sonia Rykiel, Claude Montana and Theodore boutiques, Beverly Hills: “European designer clothes are not the future of fashion. The future is in less complicated clothes. Fashion is always a good indicator of the bigger picture, and in fashion right now, people are playing it safe. They ask to see something new, but when you show it to them they revert to what they know best. The most important buying trend is in home gadgets, because people are becoming homebodies. They’re finding more things to keep them at home in more comfort. That’s the new life style. Homes are everything. Money is spent on remodeling, enlarging, redecorating. General surroundings are really what’s important today, more than anything else.”

1989

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Don Tronstein, Rodeo Drive property owner: “More people are more aware of whether they’re getting their money’s worth. The public wants service, quality, style and value--in every price range. Low price or high price, they don’t want to feel they’re being ripped off. In the past few years, some great names have opened free-standing stores on Rodeo Drive: Chanel, Armani, Ralph Lauren/ Polo. They are doing magnificently. There’s no mystery as to why. They offer style with quality and service, so people who can afford it shop there. You can analogize it to the major department stores. Nordstrom came out of the Northwest to Southern California, smashed all the other stores and expanded around the country with magnificent results. They combined service with quality in a certain price range. You don’t have to be a big name like Chanel to succeed on Rodeo or anywhere else. You just have to offer value for the money. If you don’t offer that, you’re dead.”

1989

Georgette Mosbacher, chief executive officer of La Prairie cosmetics and wife of Robert Mosbacher, newly appointed secretary of commerce: “What’s oldest is what’s going to be new. Replacing the opulence of the last several years will be a return to a more classic and understated style of dressing and entertaining. I think you’ll see more satin pajamas and wide-legged pants a la Dietrich, more liquid gold gowns like they wore in the old Cary Grant movies. I think parties will be smaller, 10 to 12 people, definitely at home, with close friends. You’ll find hostesses arranging their own fresh flowers and serving more simple food: a baked potato, any fish or fowl that’s been broiled and Worcestershire sauce--that’s the sauce I’d like to see instead of French cream sauce--and California wines. And for dessert, simple, fresh mixed berries with fresh raspberry sauce. Certainly, the Bushes reflect simple, quiet elegance; they’re the epitome of that, but I also think it’s the direction we’re all going. It’s a matter of change. It’s time for a change.”

1989

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Victor Costa, fashion designer: “Women won’t be willing to spend a fortune on social dressing. I think the Bush family will lead the way, and it’s going to be demode to spend thousands on a ball gown. I really feel it’s a sanity factor. When you don’t spend lots of money, you feel more sane. Ivana Trump sounded the trumpet when she said she was going to buy American and stop paying those haute couture prices.”

1989

Bernie Ozer, vice president, fashion merchandising and marketing, Associated Merchandising Corp.: “Coming up: Roller-coaster comedies from the ‘40s and ‘50s; one-man or one-woman shows. Specialty supper club acts. A revival of the Ed Sullivan format on TV. People will own a wardrobe of sunglasses; eyeglasses in general are back. Kitchen cocooning: meat loaf and mashed potatoes eaten in rooms that combine kitchen, dining room, back porch. The next collecting mania will be chairs, odd chairs instead of sets. Ballroom and vogue dancing are on the way in. Gray hair. It will be the year of the larger woman: ample sizing and ample clothes for ample figures. Birds are the new puppies. The whole focus will be the homey thing with musical instruments in the house and the antique piano as status symbol. In fashion: cameos, signature rings, rose diamonds, bar pins. Women’s planned ensembles will take over, as in a jacket, coat and pants made to match. Square toes and Louis heels on shoes. Sweater sets. More citified sportswear, such as hacking jackets. In menswear, double vent and double-breasted jackets, velvet-collar coats. And ice cream sodas for everyone.”

1989

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Eric Smith, creator of E.G. Smith socks: “Crafts are coming back. I’m glad to see us once again placing value on what humans can do rather than on what machines can do. It all goes with a revival of the 1960s, a nostalgia for the days when people were hand-dying and putting patches on their jeans. People will start doing fun things with accessories. That’s the only area where they can express their individuality and creativity without emptying their pocketbooks at the same time.”

1989

Kenneth Cole, shoe designer: “Traditionally, life style has reflected current fashion trends. That is reversing, so that fashion trends now reflect our life style. Soon the reversal will be complete. Clothes will be even more functional, more sensible, more practical. We’ve seen it happen already with more tailored kinds of shoes for women, more athletic and comfortable types of footwear. Of course there’ll always be fashion and people who want to appear a bit different, a bit above and apart from the others.”

1989

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Isaac Mizrahi, fashion designer: “Women will look for clothes with integrity. Not rubber, not stretch bodysuits, not midriff-halter things with a thousand buttons. I don’t mean women will want boring, basic gray flannel suits. Integrity means anything that doesn’t look available. A woman goes into Chanel because she knows it’s not available to every woman in the world. It also comes with all this grand sort of culture attached to it; yet, at the same time, it’s very new. That’s what I think will sell. I really believe in exclusive things now. I can’t stress that enough. In the ‘70s, every designer who could hired a big name photographer like Bruce Weber to do a huge ad campaign that bombarded women with their ill-fitting clothes. It was all about image. But fashion isn’t based on hype anymore.”

1989

Joanne Kozberg, president of the Amazing Blue Ribbon of the Music Center and vice chair of the Walt Disney Concert Hall Committee: “The city will really come of age in ’89. It seemed for a long time that people considered things here to be temporary. Now, architecturally, there appears to be a growing sense of thoughtfulness and quality and permanence. There’s also a realization and a sense of responsibility that we are on our way to becoming the most densely populated city in the United States. We’re starting to take the future very seriously. On a more frivolous note, I personally hope that we can move beyond the colors aqua and peach in restaurants, hotel lobbies and strip shopping centers. And in 1989, we’ll witness the demise of the miniskirt and the advent of loose, flowing pants. People won’t mind carrying a few extra pounds.”

1989

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Jim Klein, painter, singer/song writer: “We’ve reached the height of the costume era--we’ve learned how to dress up our thoughts and our emotions and our world. And it’s not working. All that frivolity is leading to destruction. In 1989, there will be a total environmental awareness because of the greenhouse effect. It’s going to make the universe a universe for the first time, just by everyone asking the question: ‘What do we do to avoid our extinction?’ No one can point a finger anymore. You throw garbage in a stream in Montana and traces of it end up in Australia years later. It’s going to force honesty upon mankind. There’s no room for contrivance when it comes to survival.”

1989

Leon Max, fashion designer, Los Angeles: “L.A. is becoming more refined, more civilized. Living in the second largest and second most important city in the country, Los Angelenos are asserting themselves. With that comes a certain degree of pride, and trying to take full advantage of the life style L.A. offers. People are gardening, trying to perfect the flavor of their food, finding a better wine, furnishing their homes with a more sophisticated aesthetic. I don’t have time to garden, but I take an aesthetic interest--something I never did before. Los Angeles is still an architectural nightmare, but if one understands the location, you can drive from one oasis of culture to the next and keep your blinders on.”

1989

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Van-Martin Rowe, architectural and interior designer: “I’m noticing an enormous upsurge in maternity clothes. It’s as if everybody is pregnant. I’m seeing dining room tables that seat at least 10. It’s the sense of the family. People are socializing more at home, asking friends and their kids over. I’m creating areas within the living room for children. The trend comes from a generation raised with psychological terms like “ ‘enrichment.’ ”

1989

Sheila O’Brien, director of public relations, Beverly Hills Hotel: “Everything seems to be speeded up, lightened up, including the amount of luggage and the changes of clothing. Guests don’t seem to mind appearing more than once in the same attire. They’re more casual, more informal. People want to come to the Polo Lounge in shorts, but we’re not allowing it.”

1989

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Bob Mackie, fashion designer: “Instead of designing kitschy clothes--and I’m certainly guilty of that--we’ll be doing classics that could have been worn 20 years ago and will look good 20 years from now. There’s more of an ease. There are looser shapes instead of those little sausage dresses. And shoulder pads are all but gone.”

1989

Allee Willis, artist/songwriter: “Nineteen eighty-nine will be the year of the real person. The reason someone like (singer) Tracy Chapman is so successful is that she has supreme talent and confidence, but they’re presented in the body of an ordinary person who could live next door and have the same problems as everyone else. I’m also a defender of (sitcom) ‘Roseanne.’ It’s a show with everything you don’t usually get on TV: people expressing real sentiments, saying stuff that people actually say within the confines of their own homes.

“Also in ’89, more people will have the guts to break out of the tight career categories they’re in. The significance of living in L.A. is that it’s an easier environment in which to break those boundaries. If you’re a writer, you don’t have to be just a writer any more; you can also be a set designer, director, whatever. In a few years, the perception of ‘a Hollywood career’ will be totally different.

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“I think car phones will proliferate. They remove stress and trauma for people with involved Hollywood schedules. They’re worth every penny they cost. I only use mine when I’m lost, late or desperate. I’m lost a lot because I drive a lot and the phone has taken all the fear out of it.”

1989

Charlie Fradin, screenwriter of the summer ’89 release “Boris and Natasha”: “In my circle, everybody’s getting married. If they’re not getting married they’re settling down--well, not settling down as much as settling in. I don’t think it’s the couch potato thing. People will stay home, but they’ll be doing a lot of stuff, like entertaining more, because it’s a safe haven. With no one knowing what’s happening with the economy or the world situation, you make yourself a safe haven. I see lots of ottomans and comfortable seating. Nineteen eighty-nine is the year before 1990 and 10 years away from the year 2000, which, when I was a kid, seemed 100 million years away. So I think we’ll just burrow and play it safe.”

1989

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Josine Ianco-Starrels, chief curator of Long Beach Museum: “In the next few years, many artists will leave Los Angeles to find quieter, more contemplative lives. Many have already left to live in Cambria, Albuquerque and other spots. That’s because the feeding frenzy is on in L.A. As we become a major art center, the buying and selling increases, the competition becomes more fierce. Artists suddenly find themselves in a status race, comparing themselves with their colleagues as if they were stockbrokers. Among those artists concerned only with their art, there’s a desire to find a haven, a place away from the rat race.”

1989

Lynn Kienholz, founder and president of the California/International Arts Foundation: “More and more international museums are requesting exhibitions of California artists. I think this is an emerging trend. The arts are growing in L.A. and what’s more important is that support for the arts is growing. People are not only buying art locally but they are monetarily supporting more projects than ever before.”

1989

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Brooke Knapp, president of the Knapp group (private investment company) and record-setting aviator: “I notice a growing awareness of the importance of honesty and accountability in business transactions and in personal relations. And a trend toward concern for others, toward a more caring society where money is not the consummate value. We’re seeing more women helping other women. Now that they feel comfortable with themselves as power sources within the business community, they’re able to reach out and help others.”

1989

Edward Maeder, curator of costumes and textiles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art: “The use of the English language is going down the drain. I think it’s tragic that people don’t maintain vocabularies and a love of the language. Even newscasters don’t use correct grammar. It stems from television and from having everything fed to us. We’re also emerging on a new plateau of greed. I just read about a wedding in New York where $1 million were spent on flowers. Greed is blossoming, and society looks upon it as all right. But there is hope. There’s a growing consciousness about our environment. People are fighting to save what’s left.”

1989

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Marshall Herskovitz, executive producer of “thirtysomething”: “I’m seeing people of our generation, the baby boomers, distressed by their lack of connection to the forces of change in society. There’s an active desire to rectify that situation, whether it be giving more money than they have in the past or making a greater commitment of time. We’re coming out of our shells. I would like to believe you reach a point in life where you look around and become more aware of people who are needier than you.”

Contributing to this story were Times Staff Writer Rose-Marie Turk and Betty Goodwin.


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