It's about to begin again . . . that parade of outrageous, silly, unrealistic designs from the Paris runways. Last time it was miniskirts, breast plates and football shoulders. The show -- guaranteed -- will be just as absurd this time. Or is it absurd? To be sure, a share of what is shown on the Paris runways is exaggeration, meant to make an impact on -- or just wake up -- the crowd in the back of the room. The exaggerations are meant to stretch the eye, so that when the clothes actually appear in the stores (usually in watered-down versions), they look not only acceptable but, for many, fresh and attractive.

The point is not to take literally all those pictures you see coming out of Paris.

Yves Saint Laurent, of course, wouldn't object if you bought seven of his shawls, all of his beads, his multi-print mix, turban and shoes. But he doesn't expect you to wear it that way, even if that is how his model appears on the runway.

And Kansai Yamamoto doesn't envision his trendy customers streaking along Connecticut Avenue in his silk sweaters, wild tights, and equally wild hairdo. By the time his sweaters, or other versions of the same idea, hit the stores, it's apparent that most people simply find his creations amusing (and warm) to wear with wool pants or jeans.

So as the current crop of Paris fashion pictures starts appearing, "read" them, not literally, but for ideas: on new proportions, pattern mixes, accessories, heel heights, even hair cuts.

Go ahead and scream first, and then screen the picture for clues that just might apply to you next spring.