A FIRM FOUNDATION
Byline: VIVIAN INFANTINO
Underwear as outerwear has been a growing phenomenon for the past few years. If you thought it was one of those ideas that would go away, you’re wrong. It gathers strength all of the time.
At the recent rtw showings in Milan, Paris and New York, underwear looks were a major factor, especially in Milan and New York. Last season it was hot news in Paris when Karl Lagerfeld created his own bra/bustier. This season, Giorgio Armani joined the fun by constructing a built-in bra effect in his jackets. It was just one way to play the lingerie game. Other designers (this season and last) put the bra on the outside of dresses.
In New York, bras, bustiers, sexy slip dresses (which really looked like slips combining lace and silk) were spotted at Isaac Mizrahi, Todd Oldham, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Bill Blass and Anna Sui, to mention a few. Footnotes for lingerie looks were usually high heeled and sexy.
Part of this underwear/outerwear madness is the result of the popularity of the Wonderbra, the figure-enhancing push-up design that apparently women were ready for. Bustiers, which have been around for some time, are also high on the popularity list. This whole lingerie idea isn’t just happening in the innerwear and rtw markets. Jean Paul Gaultier, no shy fashion violet, has recently launched a fragrance packaged in a copper corset perfume bottle. It looks like his space-age bras (like the missile-shaped ones Madonna wore on her famous tour). The perfume is said to smell like a combination of vanilla, face powder, orange flowers and roses.
In the footwear world, stretch is the medium which designers are using to express a lingerie mood. Designer Donald Pliner has taken the idea of a bra closure and used it on a stretch ankle-strapper. It’s a subtle way to do the innerwear look.
Scott Rankins likes the more obvious glamour of lacy garters, which he uses in a strappy sandal (on a high heel, of course). And Charles Jourdan’s Bis line takes a puckered elastic material (like that used in garters) and creates a strappy flat sandal.
Almost anything of stretch, of course, is evocative of corsets, girdles and bras. Stretch is the material of the ’90s which will follow us into the next century as the modern material of choice. But for those with one foot in the past, there are old-fashioned maribou-trimmed mules — the kind Jacques Levine updates all of the time. Maribou was a popular trim in Milan where Versace used it on his shoes for Versus. In Paris, Ungaro liked it as trim on clothes, as well as shoes, in a range of acid-bright colors. Maribou is an echo of yesterday. Stretch is tomorrow. Whether it’s lingerie looks or Star Trek effects, it’s where we are going.