Clotheslines by Marylou Luther


Caroline Simonelli - CSB

  Q Dear Marylou:  I like the idea of patronizing clothes companies that give back to charity.  What’s the latest in this fashion arena? __ H.L., Cleveland, OH. 


   Dear H.L.:   In this instance, the clothes-that-give idea has a double meaning—even a triple meaning.
   First:  The company behind the dress illustrated here, Creative Space Beirut (CSB), is a non-profit organization operating a free school in fashion design for students who lack the resources to pursue a degree in institutions that charge admission.  In three years, CSB students have produced and sold over 200 hand-crafted designs that generated more than $100,000 in sales, all of which has been reinvested in CSB.  In addition to the student designs, the brand also sells items designed by Parsons graduate Sarah Hermez, founder of the school, and her former Parsons professor, Caroline Simonelli.
   Second:  CSB clothes are literally and figure-atively clothes that give--one size fits all.  The raglan-sleeve dress illustrated here comes in a cotton jersey with polyester and Lycra.  The price is $120 and the dress can be ordered online at
   Third:  The giving concept also applies to the sponsors and international partnerships.  American designers Donna Karan, Derek Lam and Diane von Furstenberg, for example, have donated textiles for students to use.  According to Simonelli, who designed the dress here, “We would love to be able to sell our designs in U.S. stores.”  Stay tuned.


             Illustration by Caroline Simonelli



    Q Dear Marylou:  Much has been written about fashion’s restoration of The ‘70s.  Please recap some of the highlights of that decade’s fashions that are now trending.__ E.V., New York, NY. 


      Dear E.V.:  Tom Wolfe called The ‘70s the Me Decade—his salute to the individualism of that time.  Here are some of the “thens” that are “now”:
    Peasant blouses, first brought to fashion heights by Yves Saint Laurent in 1976, are part of today’s Boho sequels.  
    Hot pants caught fire in 1971 and their extremely brief, tight-fitting shorts are once again smoking.
    Pants for both sexes were tight and flared at the bottom.  They’re back.
   Wrap dresses.  First designed by Diane von Furstenberg in l972, these jersey dresses are once again bouncing.
   Glam Rock.  Inspired by rock stars such as David Bowie, Roxy Music and Marc Bolan, glitz and glitter, Lurex and rhinestones, velvet dresses and ostrich feather boas are rocking again.  So are platform shoes with two to four inch soles.
   DiscoBodysuits and/or leotards with tie-on skirts are dancin’.
   Punk.  Ripped jeans, torn T-shirts, scrappy haircuts and worn-and-torn leather jackets first imported from London, now available with—or without—safety pins. 



     Q  Dear Marylou:  What is the difference between punk and grunge? __ J.T., Denver, CO.


     Dear J.T.:   The word grunge is taken from its literal meaning of dirt, filth, rubbish, and its fashion meaning.  Grunge began as a Seattle-based music movement in the early 1990s. which merged rock and heavy metal with a touch of punk (which originated in The ‘70s.)  The groups that inspired grunge included Nirvana, Sonic Youth and 10,000 Maniacs.  To bring versions of the clothes worn by the music groups to the runway, Marc Jacobs got himself fired from Perry Ellis for his 1992 collection, but landed a spot in fashion history.  Landmark grunge looks include plaid lumberjack shirts, baggy pants, striped pullovers, Birkenstocks, Doc Martens and Converse shoes and the skull cap/aka the beanie or stocking cap.



   Q  Dear Marylou:  What do you think of the jacket/slacks/shirt “onesie” for men? __ N.N., Luthersville, GA.

    Dear N.N.:   I agree with the New York Post writer, Johnny Oleksinski, who wear-tested it on New York’s Madison Ave. and Bergdorf Goodman.  His findings:  The so-called Suitsy ($378 on button-down shirt, pants and jacket sewn together as a step-in and zip-up designed by San Francisco real estate developer Jesse Herzog—got responses from “It’s a great casual suit” to “the cotton wrinkles easily and completely lacks the stiffness that is the mark of a good suit coat…very Salvation Army”.  The quick-to-get-into is good, the fit-to-get-into—not so much.


  (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.