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Fall Fashion--Something for Everyone

In the first day-and-a-half of fall collections here, designers have tossed up a dish with more ingredients than any self-respecting salad needs but more than enough to fill anyone’s plate.

Retailers from Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s California are filling the front-row seats. As of Day 2, most were reserved in their comments.

Ellin Saltzman, senior vice president and fashion director of Saks Fifth Avenue, said: “So far, there are no major surprises.”

High Hemlines

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The biggest surprise so far was Gianni Versace’s insistence on mid-thigh-length skirts, slashed to the top of the thigh to reveal even more leg.

Versace’s woman has her eyes hidden behind dark shades, her legs encased in black sheer stockings, her stride emphasized with the highest of high heels. Her clothes? A jacket that’s almost as long as her short, short skirts, which are often wrapped or draped. The skirts are in black leather or velvet, the jackets in gray flannel.

For day, Versace showed oversized, long coats. And he heated up that gray and black story with generous dollops of red mixed with purple, purple splashed with red, or purple and green blends for jackets, skirts and blouses.

For late day, a major theme was bias pleating, which Versace introduced in his Paris couture collection in January. Most intriguing was the simple beauty of his black, bias pleated, short dress held on the shoulders with a wide band of black velvet. Any star up for an Academy Award should quickly reserve one of the beaded or metallic numbers that were the show’s finale.

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It was a case of culture shock to go from Versace’s expensive extravagances to Sybilla’s modest approach. The young, Madrid-based designer whose clothes are now manufactured in Italy, has charming jersey dresses that recall the early Jean Muir. Totally Sybilla’s own style were the collarless or scarf-collared coats with waistlines rising to just under the bosom. The colors--dusty rose, spinach, camel, celadon and brick--were as soft as the spongy wools of which the coats were cut.

Krizia’s Sporty Best

When designer Mariuccia Mandelli of Krizia did what she does best--knits and sporty suit looks--the collection was fine. It was even better when she threw on one of those unstructured, sweater-like coats that are beginning to be the season’s signature.

Pretty, too, were the embroidered wool short jackets on low-calf, lace wool skirts shown over crushed leggings that were pushed down on low-suede boots--everything in heather browns, lichens, lodens or plum.

Every year, Mandelli does an animal motif sweater; this year it was the cat. With “Cats” a big hit all over Europe--it just opened to rave reviews in Paris--the inspiration was obvious.

Byblos models hit the runway as if shot out of a cannon. The collection, designed by Englishmen Keith Varty and Alan Cleaver, featured yet more sensational coats: unstructured pastel wools that looked as if the models had just grabbed blankets off a bed to wrap around themselves, and patterned wool styles in Mexican blanket or kilm rug designs. Skirt lengths were at the knee with long, divided skirts just grazing the top of laced ankle boots, a major footwear accessory. There were some longer skirts in a lightweight paisley patterned wool voile, paired with intarsia knits.

Colors were orange, chartreuse, parma, lilac, rose geranium, fuchsia, olive, mustard and ivory, alone or mixed.

Haute Version of Street Look

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The hot street fashion in Milan and Florence right now are quilted nylon hunting jackets and the opening segment of the Missoni show was the designers’ interpretation of the look. They did both ankle-length coats and short jackets in black quilted nylon or blanket plaid wools over ribbed sweaters and pleated wool jersey pants.

For the second season in a row, the designers are back in stride with a signature Missoni collection. They’re the kind of clothes that become friends in a wardrobe, such as trapeze-shaped jackets in oatmeal, tweed-look knits and new, abstract art patterns with a strong mix of “fauve” colors.

A surprise, and something to add to any wardrobe: the simple black silk jersey dress, side-tied at-the-knee.

The U.S.S.R.'s best-known couturier, Vladislav Zaitsev, has been attending many of the shows here, often with his camera at the ready. He wore a red sweater to most of Sunday’s shows but changed to a turquoise silk jacket and vest for Versace’s show Sunday night.


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