Gloria Sachs says the idea came to her while she was in a taxi driving down Seventh Avenue in New York, just before her show this week. "Isn't it amazing, that within a period of five years women have gone from trying not to be noticed as women -- by wearing gray flannel suits -- to wearing pretty, short printed georgette skirts for day. I think it shows that women are absolutely sure of themselves now. Many have the executive jobs they want, and they are comfortable with them. Perhaps it is a nostalgia for what women have lost or might lose."

Sachs' collection was not all skirts, but included pants in textured, patterned silk. "Not man-tailored but as soft as a skirt," said Sachs. The pants, with wide waistbands, were shown with soft shirts and T-shirts of stretch silk or georgette.

And for the customer who has been partial to long skirts, there are mid-calf georgette skirts. "If you bought one of my long skirts last year, I want to assure you that they are not obsolete this year," insists Sachs. In fact she is offering three lengths: midcalf, midknee (or top of the knee) and several inches above the knee. "The short ones are always soft and flared ... easier to wear than a short straight skirt," says Sachs.

She's not surprised that many women are angry about the turnaround to the shorter lengths for spring. "Women have a right to be angry where they are given no alternative. Women should certainly be allowed to have a choice. The short, short skirt is not for everyone. A woman has to decide on what length suits her best and stay with that."



Rich Rewards Carolyne Roehme worked most evenings and even late into the night before her show at the Essex House recently. The night before the show, when she collapsed in bed, she slid her hand under the pillow and found a multistrand necklace of emeralds, a gift from her husband Henry Kravis for all her hard work.


Where the Lacroixes Are It'll be almost six months until Christian Lacroix will show anyone his ready-to-wear designs. But his couture creations, first for Jean Patou and now for his own house, and his "luxe" line, shown to buyers and press in Paris recently, have been such a success that Saks Fifth Avenue has announced that, sight unseen, it has committed to buying the Lacroix ready-to-wear for next fall. Saks will bring the designer to Chevy Chase for the introduction.


Georgia on His Mind It was intended to be a Georgia O'Keeffe-inspired dress. That is how Geoffrey Beene refers to one of the prettiest styles in his new collection, with a butterfly-applique'd striped vest, striped-top dress with fringed skirt and lace overskirt. He started with the vest, done in men's tie fabric, then looked for a way to frame the vest. "I embroidered and embellished it, and then by trial and error came to this way of putting it all together," said Beene. "It has the spirit of Georgia O'Keeffe."

Beene doesn't own any O'Keeffes. "I like her work and appreciate it; I just don't wish to own it."


In Memory of Willi Smith The Baltimore-based clothing chain Cignal is underwriting a worthy tribute to the late designer Willi Smith, whose clothes it has carried and continues to sell well. "He brought designer fashions to the everyday world and created functional artistic designs that everyone could enjoy," said Steve McLerran of Cignal. The fund will be executed through the Jackie Robinson Foundation. Cignal will also match customer contributions to the fund up to $100 per customer.


Labels: A New Dimension It is easy to counterfeit a label -- a walk downtown will prove that with all the fake Calvin Klein and Lacoste items on the street. And it is possible to knock off clothes. In fact, counterfeiting has been estimated to cost American clothing manufacturers more than $700 million a year in profits, according to the International Anticounterfeiting Coalition.

But it is hard, perhaps impossible, to simulate a hologram, the three-dimensional electronic image, because of the complexity and expense in making one. So the international fashion conglomerate Gruppo GFT, which produces clothes for Valentino, Emanuel Ungaro and Claude Montana, is working with American Bank Note Holographics Inc., which supplies the holograms for MasterCard and Visa credit cards, to develop holograph labels for their clothes.

The new labels, easy to authenticate on inspection, are designed to self-destruct when cut out of the original garment.


Notes de la Mode

Bette Davis on the return of short shorts: "I remember when we didn't wear hot pants -- we had 'em."

Going up: Posters in Macy's stores announce that the store will shorten all skirts purchased there free of charge.

Coming up: Eternity, Calvin Klein's new fragrance, will be in the magazines on scent strips in April, and for six months can be ordered only by mail. (That's how Obsession for men was introduced.) No nude men or nude women in the Eternity ads, but no word either on what the campaign will be. The name, Klein has said, comes from the Eternity ring Klein bought for his wife Kelly.

Designer Tracy Mills had dresses in the windows of Saks Fifth Avenue over the years he was in business, but always on the side street, often next to the garage. Last week a streamlined black gown with white pouf top was in the center window of Saks on the Fifth Avenue side. It was installed the day before he died.