NatalieWith Eco conscious wear on the rise (for real this time), a lot of new design houses are popping up with this in mind. Moschino has had a division that's done this for a while, and even the house of FENDI happily duplicates many of their fur patterns in fakes these days. One of the most interesting new finds is by designer Natalie Barriman whose new store at 110 W 7th St. N.Y.C. is worth checking out. She takes hemp based natural wovens and silk blends which often translate into hippy dippy and turns them into very cool yet chic sportswear that will last a lifetime. Get this, in 1947, there was a government film made called Hemp for Victory that illustrated the strength of this genius fiber. Good for warfare and hard urban living. It lasts 2-3 times longer than cotton and resists heat, UV rays and mildew. Commercial man came along, of course, and made "improvements" with money making synthetics and hemp production was abruptly halted. As much as we love polyester too, Natalie will be showing her collection during Alternative Fashion Week, March 19th at the Palladium.

Aside from taking in the ever-changing style shifts in fashion mondo, fashion week provides some of the best amusement available. One of the best ways to tell if a collection is exciting is to look for Elsa...We love her as she opened up the world of fashion television in the first place and because she will fall asleep at a show if she feels like it instead of pretending to oooh and aah at a bunch of boredom. I feel strongly that she works very hard at what she does and deserves every catnap she can steal so must decline divulging exactly whose shows got the z's.

And then there's this new trend of models with assistants. Apparently there's "status involved" but unless you speak a language foreign to New York (does that exist?) Hello? What could you possibly need help with. There were all kinds of completely unfamiliar faces traipsing around to go-sees with assistants in tow.

DumbOverheard: Assistant: "How many cards do you have left?" Model: "Three" Assistant: Looking at appointment book replies, "O.K., then we have to go back to the agency and get more after the next two castings". Fortunately these two found each other. Other senseless scenarios entailed assistants walking girls to the doors of said castings and explaining who the person to see would be. Seemingly normal people spelling out the obvious to grown-up girls who can probably read and count is yet another step backwards for womenkind.

The great thing was that EVERYBODY was dressed up. Not tuxes and tails, but instead of that "just rolled out of bed to do this show look", almost everyone was clean and groomed with obvious attention spent on styling their garb du jour. Even a daringly high percentage of editors took a departure from the standard all black. There were a few caricatures that looked like extras from Absolutely Fabulous but even they were tryin', bless their hearts.

Even club kids are really dressing up. The lil' darlins' are all wearing the gangster chic thing and with Casino playing on a loop all over the world, it's a matter of nanoseconds before mainstream collections pay homage. All the girls are dripping in rhinestones and evening gowns, and the boys on their arms are either doing suits with pencil thin mustaches or the modern gangsta version with all that baggy stuff. Now's a very good time to invest in that Cubic Zirconium pinkie ring.

Unique being all the rage enforces one rule of thumb: not to look like everybody if you still do, get with the program and continue to forget everything that you've ever learned. A difficult concept for the label conscious to grasp, but if you just let go of your Prada clutch for a minute and set yourself free. There are no rules. Especially the one about not wearing horizontal stripes. And with the growing success of new modeling agencies like A Plus, representing the best of New York's club kids and the some of the most gorgeous drag queens in town, the possibilities are endless.

© Fashion-Icon
Febuary 1996