It's the Marlboro Man come to the city.

Geoffrey Benne says he started making shearling coats for fall because he was worn one for four years. "It's the warmest thing I've owned in my life and also the sturdiest, says the designer.

A more likely reason could be that Beene and his fellow designers sense a ready market for such winter wear after last year's bone-chilling temperatures and energy worries. Since then, shearling coats - both the real ones and synthetic versions with a shearling look - have shown up frequently in the collections in Paris and New York.

Shearling, by dictionary definition, is the short-wooled skin of sheep or lambs, before slaughter and tanned with the wool on. Considered by many the warmest clothing around, a style by Antartex, which has been making shearling coats for 20 years, was worn on the first Antarctic expedition. The Marlboro Man wears one in the ads for that rugged cowboy look.

Among the best versions in New York:

Stephen Burrows pieced shearling into a chevron pattern for a cinnebar colors coat.

The aviator jacket in shearling by Ralph Lauren.

Ralph Lauren uses shearling for an easy fitting boy-cut coat.

The shearling look is achieved by Halston in his new version of the Ultrasued coat, worned over a bodysuit. Geoffrey Beene showed shearling to be worn over daytime and evening clothes.