By  on March 1, 1994

NEW YORK -- Cotton's role in the Paris couture -- in fabrics as well as embellishments -- was spotlighted in an audio-visual slide presentation staged by Cotton Incorporated last week.

Entitled "Cotton at The Couture, Spring-Summer 1994," it was shown five times last Wednesday and highlighted looks by Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Gianni Versace, Valentino, Christian Lacroix, Emanuel Ungaro, Maurizio Galante, Hubert de Givenchy, Philippe Venet, Nina Ricci and Oscar de la Renta for Pierre Balmain. The five shows drew a total of 823 apparel makers, designers, fabric firms and retailers to the McGraw Hill Auditorium.

"Today, cotton at the couture is woven and knitted into everything, from gabardine to voile, lisle to lace, damasks to embroideries," said Marylou Hawkins, Cotton Inc.'s senior director of fashion merchandising.

But it's hardly a newcomer. Cotton has been in the couture from the beginning, as illustrated in the clothes on the couture poupees, or dolls, preserved in the Musee de la Mode in Paris, she said, showing several on the screen.

Fluidity and movement were features of many of the season's couture looks on view during the show, in cotton and other fabrics, many cut on the bias. Ungaro's tunics, pants and dresses were cut that way and embellished with cotton Madeira embroidery.

Embroidery and laces showed up in many varieties: Alencon, Battenburg, Chantilly, Cluny, Guipure, Valenciennes and Venetian. There were lacy cotton open works at Chanel and, at Lacroix, a short black Chantilly lace apron and re-embroidered lace bodice had a T-shirt with lace-encrusted sleeves and cuffs. Lesage cotton embroidery in a floral bas relief effect topped a cream, shaped tunic suit at Valentino. Ungaro used Madeira lace, and combined a midriff-baring cotton bolero with a short taffeta tartan skirt.

Hawkins noted that the directoire high-waisted look gives the season's clothes a new feminine proportion. One from Lacroix gives it a modern edge with a miniskirt, she said.

Ballgowns were also back, she said, in such fabrics as chiffons and damasks. Saint Laurent's were in color mixes like turquoise and white or pink and white cotton damask.

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