CLOTHESLINES: Cheongsam, by Marylou Luther




Cheongsam, by MARYLOU LUTHER


Dear Marylou:  I will be going to Shanghai in May, and am wondering if anyone there still wears the cheongsam?  I have a beautiful embroidered satin version I could take with me, but not if I would be the only one to wear one.  Also, what is the difference between the cheongsam and the qipao?__A.C., Los Angeles, CA.

   Dear A.C.:  I took your question to China-born, award-winning New York apparel designer/costume designer Han Feng, who commutes between Shanghai and New York, where she operates art spaces.  She says that the traditional cheongsam, once considered a relic of the past, is becoming more interesting to China’s young women.

   “This generation is interested in reconstructing outfits drawn from almost 1500 years of costume history, anywhere between the Teng and the Qing dynasties—600’s to 1900’s.  Their elaborate creations are known as hanfu, and wheras in the past one would only see them on TV in costume dramas, today you see them on weekends in the cities and scenic areas, camera-ready to share on social media.  Elements of traditional Chinese dress are more commonly seen as a mix of a pencil dress and a qipao.”

To Han Feng, there is no difference between the cheongsam and the qipao, explaining that the look has “only been around a hundred years or so, and that the word cheongsam is based on the Cantonese pronunciation of the name, and qipao is the name used in Mandarin.  Her illustration here is the classic cheongsam/qipao made famous in the last century by Madame Chiang Kai-shek.


Illustration by Han Feng


Dear Marylou:  What is the difference between a Mao collar and a Mandarin collar?  They look alike to me.__D.L., Boston, MA.

   Dear D.L.:  They look alike to me, too.  But China-born New York designer Vivienne Tam says they are totally different.  “Many think of the Mao collar, named for Chairman Mao Zedong, China’s leader during the Cultural Revolution,  as being Chinese, but it was borrowed originally from the Germans, who wore them at university.  It is therefore hard to claim that the Mao suit is Chinese.  The Mao is two-layer, folded down, while the Mandarin is stiff and high, designed to block the cold.  The Mandarin has appeared in different incarnations throughout time, from the horseback fashions of the Manchurians of the Qing dynasty to the emperor’s dragon robe to everywoman’s cheongsam.

   Dear Marylou:  I’m a stay-at-home mom and I’m really concerned about protecting my family, your family, the earth from global warming.  What are things I can do—or not do—to help.  Or can one individual really do anything to help?__D.P., Lincoln, NE.

   Dear D.P.:  New York designer Eileen Fisher, known for her work in sustainability, has a list of what-to-do actions to help save the planet that include such simple acts as switching to cold water the next time you fill your washing machine.  According to Fisher and her eco experts, by switching to cold you can cut your energy impact by up to 90%.  To see the entire list go to


   Dear Marylou:  In shopping for my engagement ring, my fiancé and I found a ring we both love and can afford, but it has a flaw.  The flaw is totally undetectable to our eyes, but shows up the the jeweler’s loupe.  Should we buy it?__E.T., Des Moines, IA.

   Dear E.T.:  Gemstone expert Camilla Dietz Bergeron says not to be too insistent on a flawless diamond.  “While color and clarity are important considerations, a smaller flawless tone is not necessarily more desirable than a larger one with a slight or indistinguishable flaw.”  So yes, go ahead and buy it!


      (Marylou welcomes questions for use in this column but regrets she cannot answer mail personally.  Send your questions to Clotheslines in care of this site.)

   ©2020, International Fashion Syndicate











Dear Marylou:  Do you really believe women will start wearing over-the-elbow gloves again?  If you do, why?__D.K.K.:  Los Angeles, CA.

   Dear D.K.K.:  If Zoe Kravitz wears them to the SAG Awards, if  Beyonce wears them on some red carpet, yes, I believe long gloves will shine again, at least some some carpets.  To get a better background on the why-gloves-happen phenomenon, I took your question to the man who is, hands-on, the world’s master glove maestro.  He’s designer/artist Daniel Storto, and he traces the latest glove love to Lady Gaga, who wore long black gloves to last year’s Academy Awards.  Before that, he says, “all formal rules went out with the bustle,” pointing out that those formal rules from the 1800s and 1900s forbade wearing gloves while having dinner.  “To be proper, you either removed the gloves completely before dinner or you slipped your hands out of the wrist opening and tucked the hand parts inside the wrist area.  After dinner, you removed your glove hands from the wrist opening and put the hand part back on.”

Storto’s advice for today’s glove-wearer:  “Leave your gloves on while having dinner and create sensational gossip for morning-after coffee breaks.”

  (Editor’s note:  I  can personally attest that Queen Elizabeth II, during her visit to Chicago in the late -50s, left her white gloves on while eating at a luncheon in her honor.  I covered the event for The Chicago Tribune.)

The glove propriety that prevailed when a woman of style wouldn’t leave her house without her hat the gloves ended in The ‘60s.  But with The ‘50s and early Jacqueline Kennedy ‘60s back in today’s fashion spotlight, maybe gloves will once again be a five-finger fashion exercise.


Illustration. By Daniel Storto



Storto, who first became fashion-famous/nation-famous  in 2000, when he made a pair of black leather gloves hand-printed with the late great Designer Bonnie Cashin’s obituary.  Those gloves and other what he calls “obituary gloves” for women of style, including Edith Head and Diana Vreeland, are now in the permanent collection at Storto’s “The Glove Museum”.  Located in Dorloo, NY, the museum features a collection of more than 5,000 pairs of vintage gloves dating from The 1700s, glove-making tools from The 1800s, glove drawings from The 1930s and ‘40s and glove-making machinery dating to the 1900s.  

   The hand-sewn leather and suede gloves in his illustration are priced from $200 to $750.   They and ready-made gloves ranging from $25 to $150. are made at Storto’s glove shop on Main street in downtown historical Gloversville, NY.  A complimentary catalog with color swatches is available on request at

   (Editor’s note:  Storto is currently writing the chapter on glove-making for film and television for The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles.)



Dear Marylou:  When the San Francisco 49er’s head coach Kyle Shanahan started wearing “the trucker hat”, it seems to have started a fashion trend.  What is the difference between a trucker and a baseball cap?  (And you might ask, why do I care?)__E.D.G., Chicago, IL.

   Dear E.D.G.:  You care enough to ask me about it.  To get right to it, the trucker is technically a type of baseball cap.  I have not interviewed Coach Shanahan, but it would make sense to me that he wanted to differentiate himself—and his cap-- from baseball to football.  According to Alex Williams of The New York Times, Shanahan worked with the league’s official cap maker New Era to design a hat inspired by the trucker caps he favors off the field.  The trucker differs from the baseball cap because the front section stands up straight, making the cap taller than other caps.  The trucker also has a snap-back closure, and it’s made of “breathable mesh”.  The trucker started in the 1980s as a promotional giveaway from food stores and farming supply companies.  To see New Era truckers, go to


   Dear Marylou:  With The ‘70s recycling into fashion, what do you see as the big influencer of that decade?__E.M., Baltimore, MD.

   Dear E.M.:  I pick the movie “Annie Hall”, starring Diane Keaton, for its widely-copied girls-as-guys clothes.  With that 1977 film, fashion androgyny filtered from the silver screen to the runway.

   Dear Marylou:  If you could only buy one thing to update your menswear wardrobe right now, what would it be?__J.K., Denver, CO.

   Dear J.K.:  A cardigan sweater.  


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

Send your questions to Clotheslines in care of this site.)

   ©2020, International Fashion Syndicate







New Cycle for the Motorcycle, by MARYLOU LUTHER


Dear Marylou:  As a 22-year-old I’m still paying back a student loan while working at my first, entry-level job—at the attendant entry-level salary.  My funds are obviously limited.  What do you recommend as a coat or jacket that will get me noticed by the “crowd-selector” at the clubs and still be suitable for work?—J.D., New York, NY.

   Dear J.D.:  A leather motorcycle jacket.  For your sorties on the club scene, you might want to decorate your jacket with studs or jewels, as in this version by the designer who first drove the motorcycle into fashion heaven.  If embroidering your motorcycle with religious icons, as Versace did, seems too ecclesiastic, a plain leather style will do just fine.  If you like the idea of decorating your jacket but are wary about wearing it to work, just slipcover the jacket with a vest.

Illustration by Fernando Flores


Dear Marylou:  I own two quilted satin jackets that have painted letters  which have been applied professionally.  Is there any way to remove the lettering without ruining the jackets?  I’ve called silk screeners and they know how to put them on, but have no idea how to get them off.  Do you?—R.P.T., Denver, CO.

Dear R.P.T.:  No, but I do have some ideas for covering the letters.  For example, how about stitching on quilted satin appliques in multicolor amorphous shapes?  Or hiding the letters under rows of fringe?  Or sewing rhinestones, pearls, sequins or crystals all over your jackets?  Or rickrack, passementerie braid or tassels?


   Dear Marylou:  I’m back from the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s “In Pursuit of Fashion”.  I’ve seen Christian Francis Roth’s “”Breakfast Suit” you wrote about, and now I’m determined to learn more about him.  (Yes, I’ve Googled.).  This guy is fabulous!  Tell me more.__J.J.A., Newark, NY.

   Dear J.J.A.:  First off, did you know that Roth is one of two living American designers (The other is Roberto Rojas) and one of three living designers from any country (London’s Zandra Rhodes is the third) whose apparel designs are featured in the exhibition? (It runs until May 20 at the museum’s Anna Wintour Costume Center, and also features American designers in accessories.)  So here’s what I’ve found out about Roth since my original report.

   His “Breakfast Suit” was created in 1990, when he was 20.  He says it was inspired by the 1953 Warner Brothers cartoon “Duck Amuck” with Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck.  Roth says his name for this fried egg wonder was intended as a spoof on the idea of the “Ladies Who Lunch” (ladies who breakfast, get it?) and the suits worn by the society figures of that period by designers such as Chanel, Oscar de la Renta and Bill Blass at restaurants such as Le Cirque, La Grenouille and Harry Cipriani.

   In case I did not mention this earlier, the designs are all from the Sandy Schreier collection, which was recently donated to the museum.  The Schreier marvels  include haute couture and ready-to-wear designs by Fortuny, Christian Dior,

Cristobal Balenciaga, Charles James, Madeleine Vionnet, Karl Lagerfeld, Franco Moschino and Roth, who revealed to me that he is about to introduce a new collection.  Could the Dinner Suit or the Cocktail Suit be next?  Stay tuned!


   Dear Marylou:  I’m a male nurse married to a nurse, and I’m writing to comment on the recent return of sanity among younger women who have begun to wear stockings and garter belts instead of that gynecologist’s dream, pantyhose.  I’ve passed along several catalogs to women I work with—women who didn’t know there were options to sagging crotches and frequent trips to the doctor for yeast infections.  In the 2 l/2 years since my wife started to wear stockings, our hosiery budget has taken a nose dive.  Buy four pairs of pantyhose, get four runs and you’re back  at the store.  Buy four pairs of stockings, get four runs and you still have two pairs left.—A.T., Canton, MI.

   Dear A.T.:  Your remarks are right on target, but I think one reason some women still prefer pantyhose is that they provide one clean line from the waist down instead of the revealing garter marks that show through clothes.  (Yes, I know some women and lots of men find that look sexy.). Thigh-high stockings that stay up courtesy of gentle rubber grips are also good pantyhose options because they also eliminate the show-through of garter straps and stocking fasteners.  I should also point out that if your pantyhose fit properly from waist to crotch there would be no problem.


 Marylou welcomes questions for use in this column but regrets she cannot answer mail personally. 

Please send your questions to

   ©2020, International Fashion Syndicate.)





The Up and Down of Stripes, by MARYLOU LUTHER


Q Dear Marylou:  Why are vertical stripes so difficult to find in knitwear?__H.G., Iron Mountain,  MI.

   Dear H. G.:  I took your question to Rosita Missoni, who, with her husband Ottavio and sons Luca and the late Vittorio, and daughter, Angela, now ceo of the company, have truly defined knitwear in modern times.

Here’s her answer:

   “In 1958 we wanted to make striped knitted dresses using vertical stripes.   At that time, we had very simple machines but we had the possibility to make tubular plain striped knitted fabrics which we started to use vertically, making dresses and shirts not fully fashioned but with the classic cut and new method.  It was our very first fine-knit dress with vertical stripes—a small collection called Milano Sympathy.  It was our very first edition of 500 vertically striped dresses.”

   (As background here, I quote Luca Missoni to explain why vertical stripes in knitwear were so difficult to achieve:

      “Traditional kits are made as a sequence of horizontal passages of a thread along a bar of needles.  The change of color or texture of the thread creates horizontal stripes.  Normally, knits are used in clothing the way they come out of the machine.  This way, the knit stitch has a tighter tension stability in the vertical compared to a looser one in the horizontal, thus giving knitwear its typical quality of comfort. 

   “To produce vertical stripes in simple knitwear you have to use the technique of intarsia or inlaid knitwear that consists of knitting a series of adjoined vertical knit sections.  This technique produces vertical striped patterns maintaining the ‘right’ way of the knit.   To manufacture this type of garment you need to use simple hand-knitting machines or technically complex automatic-knitting machines, thereby occasioning either a higher labor cost or a higher industrial cost.”)

   In other words, you don’t see many vertical knits because they are too expensive for most companies to produce, and, therefore, too expensive for most stores to sell.  The good news is that Missoni makes and sells vertical knit tops, including tanks, cardigans and pullovers in cotton, silk, silk blends, wool and cashmere.  The largest selection in the U.S. is at the Missoni Boutique, 676 Madison Avenue, New York, NY., 10021.


Illustration by Brunetta



Q Dear Marylou: I’m constantly bombarded on Fifth Avenue with Pashmina cashmere street sales.  What is the difference between Pashmina and “regular” Cashmere?__W.W., New York, NY.

   Dear W.W.:  Pashmina is the finest grade of cashmere at 12 to 14 microns.   The diameter of the fiber must be under 19 microns  to pass as cashmere.  (The human hair has a diameter of 75 microns.).  Experts say the best cashmere yarn comes from the down on a Kashmir goat.  Sixty-eight breeds of that goat roam the high, dry plateaus in 12 countries, from Northern China, Mongolia and the Gobi Desert to Tibet, Iran and Pakistan, and even in the in the American Southwest and Australia.  Experts claim cashmere is eight times warmer than sheep’s wool.


Q  Dear Marylou:  I thought the idea of wearing somebody else’s initials went out with The ‘80s.  How do you account for this new willingness to be a walking advertisement for brand monograms?__E.K., Littleton, CO.

   Dear E.K.:  The ‘80s are back in fashion.  History is repeating itself.  Twenty years is the usual nostalgia gap.  And in The ‘80s many women were serious about right side up and upside down Gucci Gs, Fendi Fs, Louis Vuitton LVs and interlocking Chanel Cs, wearing then on earrings, buttons, handbags, shoes, even hot water bottles.

In addition to the return of initialed bags at Hermes, Chanel, Louis Vuitton  and others, there’s a new loco-for-logos development.  Now you can have your own initials on your own handbag,  thanks to Personalized Initial Handbag.  To see the selection, go to Danbury

   According to a recent study in WWD, the new initialing is  all part of a new “Personalization, described as “part of a bond-building through monogramming or detailing jeans, sportswear and jackets per customer specifications.  WWD says it’s a trend that’s been a hit at Muji, the Japanese retailer which sells customized sneakers.


Dear  Marylou:  I’m a plus size with skinny legs.  What can I do to help balance my torso with my legs?__G.H., Dallas, TX.

   Dear G.H.:  Pants are an obvious choice, especially in leg widths from medium to narrow, but not tight.  Stay clear of tights and leggings.  Boots that end an inch or so below the knees are another good choice for winter.


   Marylou welcomes questions for use in this column but regrets she cannot answer mail personally. 

Please send your questions to


©2020, International Fashion Syndicate




Previous Clotheslines...


The New Seduction, by MARYLOU LUTHER



Q   DEAR MARYLOU:  I have two cleavage-baring cocktail dresses I am reluctant to wear because they seem a little too “overt” now.  I’m 38, size 10 and attend quite a few work-related cocktail parties.  Any advice?   N.J.S., Los Angeles, CA.


 Illustration by Gai Mattiolo


DEAR N.J.S.:  Gai Mattiolo, the Italian designer who created the dress illustrated here, calls his new neckline  “a balance of elegance and seduction”—a balance he achieves here by layering his dress with low draping bodice over a shirt.  If your cleavage-baring dresses don’t seem to want to go over a shirt, try layering over a blouse, T-shirt, dickey, corselette or a chest-full of necklaces. Or wear your dresses as is and stuff a beautiful chiffon handkerchief between your breasts.  Or draw attention away from the neckline by accessorizing with oversized earrings and jeweled headband.  Or go ahead, be overt and wear your dresses with the necklines they came with.  There are no fashion police these days.





Q   DEAR MARYLOU:  With the red carpet season now in full swing, what trend would you bet on as being the best save-the-planet look?  D.D., New York, NY.


   DEAR D.D.:  Just as two years ago, when female stars wore all black to the Golden Globes to show solidarity with the #MeToo movement, I would suggest wearing green to express sustainability support. 



 Q DEAR MARYLOU:  Tell us more about the preppies and why they seem relevant now for men, especially.  T.O., Denver, CO.


   DEAR T.O.:  In this time of lookbacks, sequels, re-plays, everything-old- is-new- again, preppies are another expression of today’s relevance factor.  Their khakis (aka chinos), seersucker suits, wide-wale corduroy pants and deck shoes are once again timely.  And, as it says in The Official Preppy Handbook:   “The pairing of the pink and the green is the surest and quickest way to group identification within  the Prep set…no one else in his right mind would sport such a chromatically improbable juxtaposition.” 

   So what started in the early 1900s and became the uniform at Ivy League schools such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton in The Fifties is studied now in fashion schools coast to coast.




Q  DEAR MARYLOU:  I wear a size 40DD bra and a size 10 dress—whenever I can find one to accommodate my bustline.  What necklines are best for me?  E.L., Baltimore, MD.


   DEAR E.L.:  Best for what?  If you want to make your bosom look more proportionate to the rest of your body, the wrap dress will do just that.  The kimono is a wrap closing, and that closing is one of the reasons it has lasted for centuries.  Once again, thanks to all the fashion comebacks, the wrap dress is once again enwrapturing the fashion universe.


Marylou welcomes questions for use in this column but regrets she cannot answer mail personally. 

Send your questions to

   © 2020 International Fashion Syndicate




previous Clotheslines       

Q: Dear Marylou:  At this time when designers seem to be zeroing in on functional clothes, what is your pick as the most multi-functional evening gown design for spring? __ U.R., Kent, OH.Twofer Gown by Luisa Beccaria

illustration by Luisa Beccaria

                      Dear U.R.:  My vote goes to the Luisa Beccaria-designed twofer illustrated here.  Instead of creating a printed see-through gown with an attendant  solid-color slip, this multi-awarded Italian designer creates twin floral prints for the gown and the slip, layering one over the other in two separate fabrics.—the outer layer in sheer lace, the under in jersey (the underslip intended to be worn independently). This double duty twosome can be ordered at and/or


         Q: Dear Marylou:  What technological invention do you see changing the way clothes are made? __ E.S., Newark, NJ.

                       Dear E.S.:  Without getting too technical about it, I see the new designs by Noir Kei Ninomiya as inventive because they are assembled without sewing.  The designer, who began his career as a pattern maker for Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garcons, creates garments such as biker blousons with attachments that curl around the body like exoskeletons, shirts peeked from under sculptural wrappings and a dress composed of long strips of green tulle threaded around large rings to fix them into place and finished with heat-bonded strips to create a marabou effect.  For more on this designer, go to this link at


         Q: Dear Marylou:  I have a strapless, royal blue formal dress made of 100% acetate.  It has stains on the bodice, back and underarm areas—stains that resulted from wearing a short, black bolero jacket over the dress on a very warm night.  Is there a way I can dye the dress black or some other color to cover the stains ?__ J.T., Clarkston, MI.

                      Dear J.T.:  I took your question to the experts at Rit Dye, who say they don’t recommend dyeing your stained dress.  Their reason:  The high water temperatures required for dyeing are likely to alter the fiber, causing a crinkling effect.  They also caution anyone trying to cover stains by dyeing that unless the stains are removed before dyeing, the dye job will have the same stains or spots.  Their recommendation:  Take your dress to a drycleaner and hope he can remove the stains.
                      If the stains remain, why not cover the bodice of your dress—and the stains—with pearls, buttons, scrollwork, studs, fringe or hand-painting?


                  Q: Dear Marylou:  I’m getting married in February and would like to wear my grandmother’s wedding veil.  The lace is about 60 years old and it is limp and yellowed.  Where can I get it whitened and sized? __ T.M., Los Angeles, CA.

                       Dear T.M.:  I took your question to the textile conservator at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, who offers this advice:
                      “Put the veil in a nylon net bag.  Prepare a solution of mild detergent such as Ivory in barely lukewarm water.  Suds it up so it foams.  Dip your bagged veil into the suds and press gently with your fingertips.  Do not rub vigorously.  Rinse twice in lukewarm water, then once more in distilled water.  If the veil is still limp, place it over waxed paper and press very carefully with a warm iron.  
                       Please let me know how it turns out.          


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

 ©2019 International Fashion Syndicate


previous Clotheslines


          Q: Dear Marylou:  If stick-your-leg-out slits in evening dresses are a cliché, as you assert, why do I see so many in the spring designer previews?__K.K., Cleveland, OH.
              Way Zen of JSong Gown For Night illustration

illustration by Way Zen

             Dear K.K:  Because sex sells.  And because that split-to-the-hip Versace gown Jennifer Lopez poked her leg out of almost 20 years ago got a major reprise, and standing ovation,  in September when she modeled a revised version at Versace’s show, the “movement” is almost assured of a new step and repeat presence on red carpets “everywhere”.  Lopez’s appearance in the revival, was arguably the break-out/leg-out moment of the Milan fashion week.
            To me, it may have a leg-up on the red carpet (it was also a favorite at the September Grammys) and as an historic game-changer,  but it’s still a cliché.
            Much more of the moment is Way Zen‘s made-in-New York evening dress for JSong illustrated here.  As she explains:
             “Green, (as in the green chiffon of her dress),  is the seed of happiness—happiness which can live for generations.  Yellow, (as in the polyester crepe band),  IS happiness.”  Together, the two colors say to me that the future is not only secure, but joyful, and in Way Zen’s hands, their partnering is almost as euphoric as it is topical—as in the fact that saffron yellow is color authority Pantone’s number two color pick for 2020 and green is number four. (For the record, scarlet is number one and classic blue is number three.)  For more information, go to


      Q: Dear Marylou:  I am living proof that as you get older you shrink.  Almost all my pants are now puddling.  Without the expense of a seamstress, any ideas?__P.R.R., Baltimore, MD.

                  Dear P.R.R.:  Yes.  Follow the lead of designer Paul Andrew of Salvatore Ferragamo, as he showed in his recent spring fashion preview, and put a string around your pants at the ankles and blouse the excess fabric above, thereby creating your own pants with drawstring hem.


            Q: Dear Marylou: Of all the colors designers showed for spring, which one shade rang a bell with you?__H.T., Luthersville, GA.

                   Dear H.T.:  I don’t mean to demean the Pantone color experts in their choices, but, for me, the non-color, white looks right for spring.  It is the final word in simplicity and purity and space, as in the white vinyl go-go boots of the space-age ‘60s.  The first astronauts wore white suits because white deflected the 275-degree heat of sunlight in space.


             Q: Dear Marylou:  Many fashion experts are saying street fashion is over.  When did it start?__J.K., Newark, NJ.

                    Dear J.K.:  The first time fashion ever came from the street was in The’60s.  Credit London’s Mods and Rockers as the innovators.  The times were as high as the skirts—and some of the people.  The ‘60s were also the first time mothers wanted to look like their daughters, the first time skirts reached the hips and the first tine man walked on the moon.  From street walking to moon walking, with all the attendant nuances…


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

 ©2019 International Fashion Syndicate  


previous Clotheslines

       Q: Dear Marylou:  In this chaotic world, why isn’t fashion providing some wit and humor to cheer us up? ___ A.K., Philadelphia, PA.

Christian Francis Roth Breakfast Treat illustration

illustration by Christian Francis Roth

            Dear A.K.:  Because retailers tend to be skeptical about the salability of humor, you are most likely to see the wittiest in designer-owned boutiques.
             With the exception of designers like Moschino’s Jeremy Scott, Maison Margiela’s John Galliano and a few others, the fun side of fashion is indeed not very funny.  But from now to May 20 if you go to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, Anna Wintour Costume Center, you can see and smile at the wit, humor and creativity in Christian Francis Roth’s “Breakfast Suit” illustrated here.  
             The multi-awarded designer,  who is featured in the “In Pursuit of Fashion :  Sandy Schreier”exhibition, along with design legends Paul Poiret, Mariano Fortuny, Jeanne Lanvin, Karl Lagerfeld and Elsa Schiaparelli, says the suit in his illustration was designed  30 years ago for his  spring 1990 collection.
            “I was inspired by imaginative comic strips from the early 1900s, especially one Chuck JonesBugs Bunny cartoon called ‘Duck Amuck’.  In his story a giant brush would enter the screen and alter the scenery, wardrobe and even the characters.  It made me think, what if a woman wore a simple black linen suit all of a sudden a brush appeared and painted two fried eggs on it.  The result:  I shaped the front of the jacket to follow the curves of the egg white appliques, the yolks were buttons, etc.”
            So what inspires Roth today?
           “To use the same philosophy as Duck Amuck, the pun quite intended, I feel we’ve painted ourselves into a corner regarding climate change.  Designers can no longer afford to produce apparel at the scale we have in the past.  The fabric production and discarded garments are contributing to pollution in a meaningful way.  What inspires me today is to work on designs that help the environment, or at least help to reduce pollution.  As a creative mending idea, I am now focused on patching up garments my customers can bring to me for repair—to add a bit of novel creativity to a well-loved garment and give it new life.”
           To see more of Roth’s pop art motifs, which include barking dogs, clothespins, dance step patterns and more, go to his website:


           Q: Dear Marylou:  What’s the latest on fashion designers helping to reduce pollution? ___ W. M., Denver, CO.

                  Dear W.M.:  One of fashion’s most ecology-committed designers, Eileen Fisher, has an entire section of her website, devoted to such information as:
                  Switching to cold water in your washing machine can cut your energy impact by up to 90 percent.
                 Conventional dryers are a huge energy culprit.  Line drying preserves fibers—and the life of your clothes.



           Q:  Dear Marylou:  I’m interested in the so-called transformable clothes.  Is there anything new on that front?__ J.K., New York, NY.

                    Dear J.K.:  Yes!  Virgil Abloh, artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear, has designed a capsule collection of 14 items that includes a coat that transforms into a backpack, a shirt that converts to a pillow and an oversize duffel with a side compartment that contains a sleeping bag.  You can see the collection, labeled Louis Vuitton 2054, at Manhattan’s Vuitton store, 122 Greene Street.