Designers are making graphic changes. The ruffles and clutter have been spring-cleaned away to provide shapes with a fresh slant.
Words like architecture and geometry are apt for these designs of more structured fabrics. The Space Age clothes of Courreges and the structures of Charles James are easy reference points. And these clothes incorporate the lessons designers learned in the last decade--men and women insist on comfortable clothes.
Proportions shift easily with hemlines. Lengths at the top of the knee, or shorter, look acceptable again, and the longer length is also a worthy option.
Here are more than 30 designers you may never have heard of before. We've looked for fresh talent in SoHo, Chelsea and the fringes of Seventh Avenue. The only disappointment was that clothes were often not much less expensive than those of the big-name designers. But for a good reason: A new talent must often pay more for fabric. The unexpected reward is that the new designers stand out for both the quality control and inventive design of what they ship to Washington. That alone makes them worth getting to know. CAPTION: Picture 1, Lynn Bowling's lamb suede top and leather shorts from Bloomingdale's; flats by Rossetti to order at Neiman-Marcus; Robert Lee Morris gold earrings from the Fendrick Gallery and Artwear, New York. Carol Fertig's linen top and cotton culotte at Saks Fifth Avenue; hose by B-line at Bloomingdale's; Rossetti striped swirl pumps to order at Neiman-Marcus; brass earrings by Stephen Allendorf from Jackie Chalkley; Jyunko Stoneharo bracelet at Artwear. His cotton jacket and cotton pants by Willem Veth for Windsor, at The Designers; Picture 2, Fine lines are drawn on beautifully shaped blouses worn with white, soft, full pants. Miya carves a bow-tie tuxedo blouse with rounded sleeves in linen and pairs it with white linen pants, at Cachet Four Seasons; white panty hose by Round the Clock at Lord & Taylor; flat sling backs by Bernardo, collection at Woodward & Lothrop; Robert Lee Morris silver disc earrings and belt at the Fendrick Gallery. The navy pin-stripe linen top by Carol Fertig and white linen full pants are from The Right Stuff; silver and copper earrings from Susan Tamulevich at The Plum Gallery (Kensington) and Cachet (Georgetown Park); white hose by Round the Clock at Hecht's; Tokio "Lady Di" flats at Ruth Shaw, Baltimore.; Picture 3, Graphic shapes in pale yellow and white linen form a tunic-effect dress by Miya & Co. at Cachet Four Seasons; brass flower earrings from Ed Samuels at Artwear. Lynn Doherty's gray sailor-collar button-back linen blouse and skirt at Liberty; ceramic earrings from Ben-Amun at Neiman-Marcus. His white silk suit by Hugo Boss for Boss; tie by Basile; shirt by Pietrovanni; all from Silhouette Boutique.; Picture 4, Clear colors graphically underscore the spare shape of Mary Jane Marcasiano's striped V-neck cotton pullover and white knit shorts at Cachet (Georgetown Park) and Bloomingdale's; Dennis Higgins' silver belt and earrings at Saks-Jandel; turquoise hose by Magninique at I. Magnin. Center, his pink cotton pullover and white pants by Ron Chereskin at Raleigh's and James Ltd.; white bucks from Barrie Shoes. Sweat-shirt dress with silver metal snaps and knit elastic-waist knee pants by Lloyd Allen at Garfinckel's and Up Against the Wall; two-tone reptile belt by E.C. Belts for Whodunnit at Dolly Kay; silver earrings by Dennis Higgins at Saks-Jandel; silver cuff from Robert Lee Morris at the Fendrick Gallery; turquoise hose from Neiman-Marcus; shoes by Joan & David at Ann Taylor; Picture 5, Suede chemise by Izabel Lam at The Right Stuff; Robert Lee Morris oxidized copper belt from the Fendrick Gallery; givency pastel hose from Woodward & Lothrop; pearlized pink and gray shoes by Julianelli at Rich's; Ben-Amun drop earrings from Neiman-Marcus. His tweed jacket and white-collared pastel shirt by Jeffrey Banks at Neiman-Marcus; turquoise knit tie and white trousers from Bloomingdale's; canvas shoes by Cole-Hahn at Garfinckel's. Right, coral silk shantung collar shirt and matching shorts by Jaime Jackson and Mary Arnold for Jackson/Arnold at The Right Stuff; gold and copper striped earrings and cuff by Steve Vobel at Artwear, New York.; Picture 6, A fresh slant on rainwear. Cotton chintz water-repellent snap-front jumpsuit lined in striped cotton by Carolyn Doyle at Paraphernalia; white sheer hose by Round the Clock at Garfinckel's; Marco's pearlized moccasins from The Bootlegger; plastic triangle earrings by Ben-Amun from Bloomingdale's; Cara Croninger white leather belt to order from the Fendrick Gallery. His blue-and-white-striped cotton sweater by Bill Ditfort and Cole-Hahn white bucks at Garfinckel's; Ron Chereskin white trousers from Woodward & Lothrop. White elasticized-waist polyurethane raincoat by Rebecca Moses at Garfinckel's; cotton knit batwing-sleeve jumpsuit by Charles Marks for Tori Ito Bishi at The Right Stuff; Ben-Amun striped plastic earrings at Bloomingdale's; belt by Cara Croninger to order at the Fendrick Gallery.; Picture 7, Clean shapes get a sharp edge from the contrast of slate gray and white and yellow. White cotton muscle shirt and industrial gray cotton pants by Catherine Hipp at Garfinckel's; yello hose at Neiman-Marcus; gold shoes by Marco at The Bootlegger; folded silver earrings and cuff bracelet by Susan Tamulevich at The Plum Gallery and Cachet (Georgetown Park). His sleeveless cotton knit sweater and trousers by Gene Pressman and Lance Karesh for Basco Sportswear at Cedar Post. Sydney Carvin Milliken angular-hem chemise for Whodunnit and Cachet (Georgetown Park); silver disc earrings and cuff from Robert Lee Morris at the Fendrick Gallery; Dennis Higgins belt from Saks-Jandel; white hose from Round the Clock at Hecht's; white "Lady Di" flats by Tokio at Ruth Shaw, Baltimore.; Picture 8, Natural colors and strong shapes separate warm-weather clothes this year. Lisa Gaffney and Jennie Maag, the designers for Narcissa, dissect a square-neck linen dress with wide striped sash at Liberty; Givenchy pale leaf hose and Andrew Geller sling backs from Woodward & Lothrop; copper striped earrings by Steve Vobel at Artwear, New York. His textured tweed sweater and pants from Jhane Barnes at The Designers. Striped chemise in rayon linen by Sydney Carvin Milliken for Whodunnit at Neiman-Marcus; Stephen Allendorf copper earrings from Jackie Chalkley and Artwear, New York; gold-plated snake belt by Robert Lee Morris at the Fendrick Gallery; chevron-stripe flats by Beene Bag at Garfinckel's.; Picture 9, Broad stripes of dark and light sharpen the clean silhouette of Yeohlee's navy and white silk tunic, from Cachet (Georgetown Park); Tadomi's black, gray and white striped taffeta kimono top and black taffeta pants at The Right Stuff; earrings from Robert Lee Morris at the Fendrick Gallery and to order at Saks Fifth Avenue.; Picture 10, Crisp white jackets shape up with ease from width at the top. White heavy cotton structured jacket has flange and curved seam that develops into a pocket by Mrs. H. Winter at Claire Dratch; earrings and bracelet by Ben-Amun at Bloomingdale's. Robert Lee Morris earrings; Picture 11, Silhouettes sharpen when the color is black, as in Rebecca Moses' black linen safari jacket and wide-leg pants, at Garfinckel's silver belt by Tess Designs at Saks-Jandel; Robert Lee Morris silver disc earrings and cuff at the Fendrick Gallery; Andrew Geller shoes at Woodward & Lothrop. Miya & Co.'s ength jacket is paired with a match black linen sailor-collar dress, etched in white from Saks Fifth Avenue; Robert Lee Morris black metal earrings and bangles to order at Saks Fifth Avenue; with Julianelli white open-toe shoes from Saks Fifth Avenue.; Picture 12, Last ruffle of spring, Lynn Doherty's white linen drop-waist dress with ruffle-edge collar from Liberty; white hose from Lord & Taylor; white Capezio ballet slippers from Chorus Line (Georgetown Park); Ben-Amun ceramic drop earrings at Neiman-Marcus. With it, a shadow of itself all in black at the same stores as the white.; Picture 13, Bare essential for hot weather, white linen overalls by Cathy and Terry Connoly for Menage a Trois at Liberty, belted in black and red reptile from E.C. Belts at Dolly Kay; black plastic drop earrings from Ben-Amun at Bloomingdale's; Rossetti red and white flats to order from Neiman-Marcus. His black and white blouson and trousers, by Ron Chereskin at Woodward & Lothrop and James Ltd.; white canvas shoes by Cole-Hahn at Garfinckel's; Colors in Optics sunglasses from Bloomingdale's.; Picture 14, Blocks of red, white and blue linen build a tank top chemise by Janet Goldman at Saks Fifth Avenue; Cara Croninger belt to order from the Fendrick Gallery; red triangular earrings from Ben-Amur at Bloomingdale's; navy hose from Saks Fifth Avenue; white piped pumps by Andrew Geller at Woodward & Lothrop.; Picture 15, Broad bands of color build on the architectural look. Bold stripes of turquoise, black and white in cotton knit elasticized-waist tip from Ron Leal for Tyger-Tyger stand alone as a minimal mini or layer over a longer miniskirt; also in cotton knit from Hecht's and Woodward & Lothrop; yellow plastic saw-tooth bangle and cuff from Ben-Amun at Bloomingdale's.; Picture 16, Fabric sculpture called Mandarin Moon Flower by South African designer Marc Bouwer is shaped in orange metallic tissue foil that has been chemically treated to hold pleats. Pliable top reveals bandeau of same fabric underneath. Available only from designer, New York; triangle drop earrings from Robert Lee Morris; strappy sandal by Julianelli at Garfinckel's.; Picture 17, Stripes are softened with natural colors, in Mary Jane Marcasiano's cornflower blue and natural striped pullover, hand-woven tussah silk fringed jacket and mid-calf trouser at Ramona; silver drop earrings by Susan Tamulevich at Cachet (Georgetown Park); Joan & David flat sandals from Ann Taylor. His blue and natural striped polo shirt and pleated front trousers by Alan Flusser at Garfinckel's; saddle shoes from Britches.; Picture 18, Stripes underscore the elongated look of Jackson/Arnold's ecru raw silk drop-waist dress; Julianelli bone open-toe sling backs from Rich's; Susan Tamulevich silver sculptured earrings from Cachet (Georgetown Park); copper and gold striped cuff by Steve Vobel from Artwear. His British khaki trousers, and striped tan and beige camp shirt are from Britches.; Picture 19, Sharp lines exaggerate the long torso of a gray and white plaid linen dress with sailor collar by Miya & Co. at Saks Fifth Avenue; white panty hose from Woodward & Lothrop; gray low-heel pump with metal strips by Joan & David at Ann Taylor; Ben-Amun ceramic earrings from Neiman-Marcus.; Picture 20, Narcissa's mellow copper plaid back-button dress with sash-tied obi in linen is at Saks Fifth Avenue; Ben-Amun drop earrings from Neiman-Marcus; Givenchy pale leaf sheer hose and Beene Bag chevron flats from Garfinckel's.; Picture 21, Plaid to the third degree in black, brown and white linen by Catherine Hipp has inset pockets at Bloomingdale's; Joan & David gray pump with metallic strips from Ann Taylor; Ben-Amun ceramic earrings at Neiman Marcus.