September 13, 2005

Fashion the perfect pick-me-up, say experts in NY

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Fashion isn't as frivolous as it may
seem in these troubled times, experts say. In fact, the gentle,
comforting colors showing up in the newest collections may be
just what we need.

The colors in clothes for next spring, being paraded down
the runways in nearly 200 fashion shows this week in New York,
are soft and muted. Nothing is terribly bright, nor is anything
terribly dark, note industry experts and insiders.

"I think spring is trying to be cheerful in a low-key way,"
said David Wolfe, creative director of The Doneger Group, a
fashion and merchandising company.

Consumers are struggling with concerns over the world's
woes since the attacks of September 11, 2001, including the war
in Iraq, fears of terrorism, the Asian tsunami and, now, the
devastation of Hurricane Katrina, the experts note.

"As a society, we're doomed to living with depressing
news," Wolfe said. "But we can take a little happy pill when we
go shopping. A little color makes us feel better."

The colors are homey and soothing, said Leatrice Eiseman,
executive director of the Pantone Color Institute.

Designers are calling purple plum, while green is thyme,
pink is blush, yellow is buttercup and blue is cornflower.

Then there's clove and espresso and earth and ginger and
raffia and pecan -- all of which are some sort of brown.

So homey are some looks that designer Carolina Herrera
trotted out a "coffee bean" bikini with "radish detail," and
Betsey Johnson showed a "mint chocolate" -- pale green and
brown -- baby doll dress.


Then there's the popular French vanilla, which is half
yellow, half cream, said Eiseman.

"It's an ice cream color," she said. "It's that nurturing

"There is a soft, soothing message coming this spring," she
said. "We want to get away from the chaos."

The most striking palette for spring is barely there, said
Joan Kaner, senior vice president and women's fashion director
of Neiman Marcus.

In particular, she said, there is a preponderance of white,
ivory, ecru and beige, with "a pop of apricot or blue" as

Kaner said she expects clothes-conscious consumers will
love what they see because fashion makes us feel hopeful.

"You get so depressed by the world situation, you want to
bring some beauty into your life," she said.

And just how did designers, who have been putting these
looks together for the better part of a year, know what we
would find appealing?

"Maybe we just expect something is lurking under the
surface," said Eiseman. "Certainly after 9/11, that feeling has
not gone away. It's in our collective psyche. It still feels
like something terrible could happen."