Clotheslines by Marylou Luther


      Sonia Rykiel August 2016

 Q Dear Marylou:  As a design student I have always been interested in the work of Sonia Rykiel and have been following the many obituaries written about her since her death on August 25.  How would you assess her work?__H.M., Kent, OH. 


           Dear H.M.:   Thanks so much for giving me the chance to extol the talent of Sonia Rykiel.  To me, she was a true original.  She was, for example, the first designer to write on clothes, as seen her LOVE message here.  She was the first to turn clothes inside out.  She was the first to prove that ready-to-wear could be just as fashion-formative as haute couture.  She was the first to end her shows with ebullient models taking their runway run with joyous smiles and gesticulations.  She was the first to have models speak on the runway, telling their fashion story in words as well as deeds.  She was a true game-changer, a disruptor whose knit-wittery proved that comfort and wearability were as important as a look.
     Sonia was a Gemini, and she told me that everything you’ve ever heard about the duality of this astrological sign is true.  “A Gemini woman has two sides,” she said, “and she is always moving between them.  So of course she needs two-faced clothes.  A Gemini also doubles up on her clothes, layering one on top of the other.”   Gemini Sonia Rykiel was an explosive double-barreled fashion force who shot from (and for) the hips.  (Her fanny-wrappers--long tight sashes for the hips and derriere—were ‘70s musts.)



      Q Dear Marylou:  I know velvet is hot right now, and I know there’s such a thing as crushed velvet, but I’m looking for a velvet that’s lighter.  Any ideas? __J.J., Baltimore, MD.  


          Dear J.J.:  The most amazing new velvets I’ve seen are by Yigal Azrouel.  His new Velvet Underground designs are geometric velvet burnout overlays on mesh and/or matte jersey.  To see his velvet Geo Burnout Skirt ($790) and Geo Burnout Jacket ($l,490), go to



          Q  Dear Marylou:  My friend says wearing someone else’s initials emblazoned all over your handbag is the height of fashion.  I say it’s déclassé.  Who’s right?__W.R.T., New York, NY.


       Dear W.R.T:   Monogrammed bags have regained their class status with the help of Gucci and Louis Vuitton.  But the big news is Vuitton’s Mon (cq)Monogram canvas bags that can be customized with the consumer’s own initials.  These so-called Speedy bags range from $970 for the Speedy 30 to $1,790 for Bandouliere 30.  You can buy them online at



      Q  Dear Marylou:  I write to ask about  your reader, the bride-to-be who said she was taller than her husband-to-be.  She said she planned to wear ballet slippers with her wedding gown.  Do you think she was en pointe?__B.Z., Denver, CO.


           Dear B.Z.:   Great question!!  Yes, I think she was en pointe!  But if she wants another, even trendier idea, she could take her lead from the white beaded lace sneakers designed by Mark Zunino for Kleinfeld Bridal.  I couldn’t find them on the Internet, but they were photographed by the New York Times on Aug. 21,Vows section.  You could emulate the look by buying a pair of white sneakers and covering them in white lace.  Then top them off with some white pearls.  And, voila:  You have shoes running for the altar.


 ... more from MaryLou Luther


                      Ruffle Jeans by Kenth Andersson

 Q Dear Marylou:  As a 30-year-old working mother, I wear jeans almost daily (yes, they have management approval).  Is there anything I can do to separate at least one pair of jeans from work to play?  Or do I need to? __ D.U., Denver, CO. 


Dear D.U.:   Obviously, if you wore your jeans “at play” with a bustier or bra, you would make them, at the least, unworkable. It’s what you wear with your jeans that gives them their social identity.  Now that jeans have been diamond-studded, washed, sandblasted, overdyed, distressed, torn, hand-painted, appliqued, silver-coated, bomb-sprayed, jeweled and embroidered, your choices for taking “at least one pair” out of the office are multitudinous.
   In this moment of gender-blending fashion, jeans have an ambisexual history that goes back to not long after their invention in 1871.
   If you want to give a sexual identity to your at-play jeans, you might consider adding ruffles to the outer seams, as in Kenth Andersson’s design illustrated here.



             Illustration by Kenth Andersson



      Q Dear Marylou:  What do you see as the most important trend shown during the recent menswear previews for spring 2017? __ L.P., Kent, OH.  


          Dear L.P.:  For reasons that go beyond fashion, I see the relaxed, pleat-front trousers with wider-than-usual legs and pants with drop crotches as singularly important.  Here’s why:  Scientists are saying that drawing the testicles closer to the body and thus warming them—as in the wearing of briefs and pants with narrow legs—decreases the amount of sperm in a man’s semen.  With the new more generous cuts, it is no longer “necessary” to wear briefs.  Re-enter the boxer short, which allows a man’s private parts more room to breathe, to cool—to “create”, as the scientists say.  Today’s boxers, while less “boxy” than their predecessors, are still more commodious than briefs and therefore more sperm-inducing, say the scientists.
   Boxers were first issued by the U.S. Army during World War 1.  As the story goes, so many doughboys liked them they continued wearing them when they returned home.  Boxers were introduced to the general public in the 1930s.  They got their name, of course, from boxers, as in those who fight in the boxing ring.  You could call the new look and its manifestations thinking outside the box. 



          Q  Dear Marylou:  As a design student I follow the seasonal showings of fashion both here and abroad.  I note that many menswear designers are showing fabrics called jacquards.  What is the difference between a jacquard and a brocade?__ J.J., Kent, OH.


       Dear J.J.:   A jacquard is a fabric with a raised pattern that is woven (instead of printed) into the fabric.  A brocade is a type of jacquard—a silk jacquard with metallic yarns.



      Q  Dear Marylou:  Any new wardrobe malfunctions to report?__ U.Y., Baltimore,  MD.


           Dear U.Y.:   Thanks to Laurel Marcus of Lookonline, I can tell you that the picture of Kim Kardashian, showing her obvious “butt padding”, was the malfunction of the moment to me.  I always thought her curvaceous derriere was natural.


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


 ©2016, 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.