Why all the hoopla about this year's "return of the dress"? Has no one noticed the 3 1/2 million Diane von Furstenberg dresses (more than 1 million of the wrap style, above, second from left, alone) and all the copies that have been selling for seven years? The big appeal is the sexy, comfortable feel of the dress and the $90 price tag, with the glamour of the princess thrown in.
One could never call the new dresses sexy. But looseness and comfort in those big dresses, with sweaters and pants - such as Gil Aimbez's big dress over pants, above left - are sure to boost this season's dress sales. Lord & Taylor already reports "booming sales of fall dresses in all prices ranges with women anxious to feel easier and freer."
Geoffrey Beene knows when not to let go of a good thing. He's sold more than 100,000 of his basic tunics in the three years since he introduced the band-collared shirttail style in polyester. The easy, comfortable look can be worn layered, belted or unbelted, and hides a multitude of sins. Each season he adds a new style (this year it was the thick-knotted-drawstring-neckline version) and some different fabrics. "Everyone just keeps buying them," said a Beene spokesman. "So we'll just keep making them."
Patricia Ragan, right, has a bone to pick with stores who've been promoting commercial punk items at high prices. Ragan is a singer with the punk group "The Look," and wears "honest" punk gear like a mastiff collar (complete with flea powder) that she bought at People's Drugs. "I've had an easy life, but I'm just as negative as anyone else," says Ragan. "The idea of punk is not a carefully ripped shirt, carefully pinned up with safety pins, with a $15 price tag," she says. "I don't want to offend people, just surprise them a little."
The classy fashion look and high price tags on designer name eyeglass frames have caught the eye of more than just the glass-wearers. Young people are finding them both attractive to wear and popular with the fences. Local opticians complain that the $35 frames are the new fad items with teen-agers - worn without any lenses. Some stores report as many as 20 pairs a week stolen. At Sears on Alabama Avenue SE, the big target is the $49 Geoffrey Beene frame; at People's Drugs Optical Center downtown it's the Pierre Cardin. In one store, chains that hold the glasses around the neck are also disappearing off the racks.
And now from Suga, the man who created the wedge haircut for Dorothy Hamill, comes the sphinx - inspired, he says, from all the "to-do" over the King Tut exhibition. Suga dislikes the hot waffle-iron treatment creating many of today's crimped, kinky hair styles, which he thinks risks damaging the hair. He suggests a permanent if you dare, or setting your hair by weaving 200 or more hairpins through it if you don't. Suga, who was Kenneth's assistant before going to Bergdorf Goodman perms his own hair to keep it from being "dead straight."
The Egyptian influence is touching makeup as well. It is all through the Estee Lauder makeup collection and has been since Lauder first saw the Tut exhibition in London. "There is more outlining than ever. Not only eyes, but lips and cheeks are being outlined to emphasize shape and structure as the Egyptians did," says Lauder. The gold body powder to be dusted on the shoulders at night is also a Tut inspiration.
We've already had chenille, lame, pique and cloque. Now add cotton damask to the revived fabrics of the 1950s. Check your old tablecloths or recall those floral or geometric-patterned jacquard woven designs of high luster on a dull ground that were used for evening wear in the 1950s. Damask was originally made of silk woven in China and more than likely got its name since it was introduced into Europe through Damascus.
Of course there is a Sacco-Vanzetti T-shirt. Theodore Watts has made it from a pre-execution button in his collection. Other Watts political shirts: Industrial Workers of the World, a Eugene Debs for President (the shirt reads For President: Convict No. 9653) and others. Available from Ted Watts, 801 South 22d St., Arlington, Va. 22302.