Clotheslines by Marylou Luther


     Q: Dear Marylou:  Several reviews on the latest Paris collections have cited the return of the bourgeoisie.  What does this mean to you? __ J.G., Kent, OH.

Hubert de Givenchy

                                                                            illustration by Hubert de Givenchy   

         Dear J.G.:  In fashionese, it means a return to classic, mostly covered-up, “ladylike”, discrete, refined, genteel clothes worn originally by the French upper class.  Wikipedia defines the look as referring to bon chic, bon genre (good style, good class)—“a French expression that refers to a subculture of stylish members of the Paris upper class…preferably with some aristocratic ancestry.”
        To me, Hubert de Givenchy’s illustration here from the late designer’s fall/winter 1993/94 collection is the perfect iteration of a look for the bourgeoisie.  A count by birth, Hubert James Marcel Taffin de Givenchy knew the women he dressed.  He was part of their culture.  He understood their taste and needs.
        Of all the collections in the new bourgeoisie collective, check out Hedi Slimane’s designs for Celine as a veritable homage to the original look. 


      Q: Dear Marylou:  I am appalled at the idea of high heels becoming the symbols of power.  I have the poor corn-and-bunion-plagued feet to prove the folly of teetering around on your toes.  As a responsible journalist, shouldn’t you warn your readers of the dangers of high heels? __ P.T., Springfield, VA.

                  Dear P.T.:   I did.  Remember my report on the University of Illinois study that showed how the women they studied could not walk fast enough in high heels to cross a traffic intersection before the light changed?
                 For those who will wear stilettos no matter how stabbing the after effects, I suggest either hire a car and driver to transport you anywhere you go in high heels or walk to your gala in flats and change to heels as you enter the event, and when leaving, return to your flats.


      Q:  Dear Marylou:  My husband is overweight.  Do you have tips for making him look less obese?__ B.B.D., Lansing, MI. 

                   Dear B.B.D.:  The most slenderizing trick of all is to wear clothes that fit.  Neckties, especially solid black ties worn with white or striped shirts, make anyone look less fat by virtue of the vertical line that divides the body mass and draws attention to the center of the figure.  Men with potbellies should avoid T-shirts, or knitted sport shirts in favor of button-front sport shirts.  Again, that vertical line of the button closure takes off pounds visually.
                  President Trump’s extra long ties are also good at hiding potbellies.


      Q:  Dear Marylou:  What is the difference between/among patchwork, intarsia, inlaid and collage? __ I.C., New York, NY.

                  Dear I.C.:   In the fashion context, they all mean the same.  They refer to pieces of unrelated fabrics and patterns that have been joined to create a whole new look from fragmented parts.
                    Intarsia, an Italian word, originated during the Renaissance, and in its early usage referred primarily to wood inlays used to create mosaic patterns.  Collage originated in the art world as a technique for composing a work of art by joining materials not normally associated with each other, as in newspaper clippings, photographs, etc.  Collage as a fashion work of art originated in the United States with Dutch-born Koos Van Den Akker, whose work has inspired designers both here and abroad.          


  (Marylou welcomes questions for use in this column, but regrets she cannot answer mail personally.  Send your questions to


©2019 International Fashion Syndicate 


Marylou Luther, editor of the International Fashion Syndicate, writes the award-winning Clotheslines column, a question-and-answer fashion advice feature read weekly by more than 5 million.

In addition to her syndicated newspaper column, Luther is the creative director of The Fashion Group International, a non-profit organization for the dissemination of information on fashion, beauty and related fields. Her twice-yearly audio-visual overviews of the New York, London, Milan and Paris ready-to-wear shows are must-seeing/reading for industry leaders. Her coverage of the European collections appears in newspapers throughout the U.S.

The former fashion editor of The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and Des Moines Register is biographied in “Who’s Who in America.” She won the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s coveted Eugenia Sheppard award for fashion journalism, the Women in Communications award and, in 2004, the Accessories Council’s Marylou Luther Award for Fashion Journalism, which will be given every year in her name.

Her essays have appeared in “The Rudi Gernreich Book”, “Thierry Mugler: Fashion, Fetish, Fantasy”, “The Color of Fashion”, “Todd Oldham Without Boundaries” and “Yeohlee: Work.” A book with Geoffrey Beene was published in September, 2005. A graduate of the University of Nebraska, where she received the prestigious Alumni Achievement award, Luther is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Kappa Tau Alpha, Theta Sigma Phi and Gamma Phi Beta.