Menswear designer Robert L. GreeN, whose patterns for Butterick are the best selling menswear patterns in Europe as well as at home, says sewing is no longer a chore. "It used to be a matter of economy, or the practical fact of not being near a store," Green says. "But now, like cooking, the chore has become a gourment delight and the sewing a creative exercise."
Sewing gives one a sense of creativity, therapy and even fantasy, says the men's clothing authority, who spoke recently at the Smithsonian Institution. "It's the fantasy that you can create as well as Yves Saint Laurent, or Julia Child." Many women sew men's items as original gifts, he notes, but there is also practically to think about: An Ultrasuede jacket that costs $75 to make has a $200 price tag in the store.
In his patterns, Green takes his cue from movie costume designer Edith Head, who always kept in mind that clothes would have a life span of three years to cover the time it took to make a film and get through the promotions. "If you are going to treat clothes like a creative process, like sculpture, it wouldn't last long if the silhouette of the clothes didn't last," Green says.
What makes clothes modern, he feels, is the matter of choice. People now have alternatives in marriage, jobs, sex. "Home sewing offers the most choices using one pattern and different fabrics."
The menswear fashion industry, a little short of ideas of its own for a fresh fashion pitch, has picked up on President's Carter's casual gear as a theme. Even before his fireside talk had bounced off the satellite, one manufacturer, exhibiting at a Paris menswear trade show, was wallpapering his stand with color blow-ups of Carte in jeans and a casual shirt. Pierre Cardin pitched his formal wear to a more casual mood with black alpaca or velvet jackets worn over white shirts without ties. Also in the collection are loose-fitting tops with very skinny pants. Even Lanvin has relaxed the conservative suit with quilted epaulettes and leather buttons. One jacket has revolver pockets for the man who is ready to trade in his holster.
Levi Strauss is delighted that the President wears jeans, but the company wishes the press would write about it a little less frequently. Every time it is mentioned in a story, its clipping sevice send the article, with a bill for 33 cents per item. "We're inundated with clippings," says Bud Johns, Levi's corporate public relations director, who is sure the President's jeans are Levis because of the stitching and rivets.
Yeoman second class Martha Hoeldtke was among those who pointed out that by a typographical slip-up, results of a Navy Times survey on uniforms were incorrectly reported in last Sunday's Fahion Notes. The Navy Times surveyed 80,214 individuals and more than 87 per cent said they wish the old bell bottoms were back for grades E-1 to E-6. Fifty-four percent of the sailors interviewed added that they would even wear them on liberty. Explains Hoeldtke, "The old uniforms are simply more traditional, more uniquely associated with the Navy."
Norman Kamali has long made maillots that could be worn as body suits with skirts or evening pants, even under suits, and she has made them again this year. But since so many others are designing variations on the body suit, she's added a bikini for her customers. It's one of the tiniest bikinis she's ever made but she finds that its high-cut sides, shirred front and string that ties around the waist fits a surprisingly wide range of figures.The Kamali designs are available only through her Madison Avenue boutique in New York.
"The only thing more absurd than Gary Gilmore's death itself is the T-shirt and the person wearing it," says James Bozony. He handscreened two inch lettering and a target on the ront of a black T-shirt and offered it for sale. Bozony, a graduate student at the University of Massachusetts, writes black humor and says he sees the shirt as a piece of historical journalism. "I think one of the absurdities and one of the things I'm satirizing is this sense of ethics and that allowed us to save a man's life twice and then to publicly execute him," he says.
Free-lance artist Susan Davis kept her deadlines in spite of the cold weather by wearing shooting gloves from Eddie Bauer. They leave the artists's trigger finger free for outdoor sketching.
Frankie Welch, who is not bashful about stamping her name on things, has wallpaper covering her boutique walls with sketches of the Frankie, a wraparound dress she created 14 years ago when she was a student at the University of Maryland. Patricia Park, the first sanctioned woman Episcopal priest in the Washington area, wore one in black cotton during part of her ordination ceremony in January.
February has always been a good shopping month. That's when the stores take markdowns on their markdowns on cold-weather clothes. This year, it's better than ever since the extra cold weather (and the resulting high heating bills) has apprently cut into buying and many items remain on the racks. Certainly among the best is Kenzo's bantam-weight unlined silk dress, softened with gathers at the neckline just like his popular tunics. The dress has deep side slits up to the waist. A top seller in Kenzo's new Jap boutique on the Place Victoire in Paris last fall, its now marked down from $200 to $64 at Hecht's. In Paris, women wear this over nothing but pantyhose, but in Washington it will prove more popular to wear it as a tunic with white pants. Also among the sale racks, Halston's hammeered satin strapless dress marked down from $540 to $270 at Saks Fifth Avenue, and Zoie's crepe separates marked down from $50 to $25 at Garfinckel's. Like the Kenzo, these are all quality classics that can be worn for years.
When Irveta Coleman, a fashion model from Silver Spring is bored with her looks, she starts braiding her hair with beads. Until recently she decorated her head with just a few, but last week she started adding and adding until her head was almost fully covered. "I'll probably keep them in about a six months," says Coleman, who has collected the beads from friends, relatives and shops. She doesn't mind the extra weight since "it makes my hair grow longer," she says. And with a feather pillow, sleeping is no more difficult than sleeping with, say, rollers. This week her lipstick is black "just to be different" and the nose ring is not pierced. "I have a very low threshold of pain," admitted Coleman.