Clotheslines by Marylou Luther


         Q Dear Marylou:  In the context of today’s fashion, what is a Bohemian and what does she wear?__ H.A., Hogansville, GA. 

Thea Porter Rich Hippie dress      Dear H.A.:  Today’s Bohemian is a hippie who’s gone from rags to riches, a gypsy who left the caravan for the limo. She’s part of the romantic movement now surfacing—and re-surfacing.  Her first big fashion heroine was London designer Thea Porter, who, in The ‘70s upgraded the ragtag faux gypsies of Woodstock and beyond into exotic Bohemians in satins, tapestry-printed velvets and luxe embroideries inspired by the Middle East, especially Syria and Lebanon where the designer spent her childhood.  In the new book, “Thea Porter” by Laura McLaws Helms and the designer’s daughter, Venetia Porter (first published earlier this year by V&A Publishing, an arm of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum and now distributed in North America by Abrams) I am credited with coining the words rich hippie to describe Porter’s haute gypsies and abaya-wearing fashion itinerants.  Thea Porter was a fashion heroine to me, an amazing designer and chronicler of her era. This beautifully researched, written and illustrated book does her justice.
   Porter came to Los Angeles often when I was with the Los Angeles Times and was always a great interview.  She dressed many celebrities, first and foremost Elizabeth Taylor, and she invited me one Sunday to come with her to the home of Veronique and Gregory Peck, where the four of us chatted about catalogs—the actor revealing that he only ordered clothes through catalogs.
                                                                              Illustration by Thea Porter


     Q Dear Marylou:  I read recently that Mike Indursky of Bliss World reported that when he first started doing research on “The Happy Factor”, there were “about l8,000 books on happiness.  If you go on Amazon now, there are about 80,000.”  How is this reflected in fashion ?__ N.S., Cleveland, OH.


        Dear N.S.:   Traditionally, color is the happy factor in fashion.  And traditionally, the color that evokes and/or induces happiness is yellow.  To check if this is still true, I asked color guru Leatrice Eiseman for her view.
     According to this expert, “Any color can be the color of happiness if it relates to some event, generally in your childhood, that made you happy—a brand new chartreuse bicycle for your fourth birthday, for example, that is forever imbedded in your psyche.  
   “However, from a more general perspective, no matter where you live, it is so connected to the warmth, joy and good cheer that a beautiful sunshine-y day can bring, yellow still wins the prize for being the color of happy.”  (Editor’s note:  In case you missed it, the color of the happy face is yellow.) Smile



          Q  Dear Marylou:  Are sling-back pumps still considered fashionable?__ H.B.N., Fayetteville, NC. 


      Dear H.B.N.:   Yes.  And if you want to give a kick to your black sling-backs, follow the lead of Oscar de la Renta designer Peter Copping and add a black lace bow to the top of the sling in back.  That’s what he did with the black patent sling-backs in his fall ads.



      Q  Dear Marylou: Can I still wear my safari jacket?__  N.N., Newark, NJ.


          Dear N.N.:   Yes.  The khaki jacket Teddy Roosevelt wore during his 1907 hunting expedition and the one the late Yves Saint Laurent brought to women in his African collection of l968 is still roaming the fashion jungles.


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


 ©2015, 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.