By Marylou Luther

Illustration by Halston

Dear Marylou: As a design student, I follow the fall fashion openings on the Internet and see a lot of talk about “the new minimalism”.  

Who started the “old” minimalism?__J.W.T., Kent, OH.

Dear J.W.T.:  It kind of depends on which “authority” you ask.  To me, the Japanese can claim provenance with the kimono, the Chinese with the cheongsam, the Qatar natives for the abaya.  In the U.S., Halston was the original minimalist.  In France it was Helmut Lang.  In England it was the mini-malists of Mod memory.  All have introduced simple, restrained, streamlined, clean, frill-free  silhouettes.

Halston, who designed the bias-cut, one-shoulder gown in his illustration here, created clothes that were far less complicated than those by his ‘60s contemporaries.  You could say he was one of the first designers to make comfort a fashion condition .  A Halston design was deceptively simple, but never simplistic, made in the finest quality fabrics, produced meticulously in his own workrooms and worn by the most elegant women of that time.

As he once said, “the most important elements in fashion are comfort and sex”.   His clothes were both—not glitzy sexy or sex-object sexy, but discreet sexy.   Those are the exact elements that next fall’s renewed minimalism movement exudes.  The one-shoulder silhouette is, too, a big comeback of the upcoming season.  In my opinion, one big reason the new minimalisms look fresh is designers use of color.  The earlier minimalisms were definitely more somber, as in  shades of black, white, gray, beige and silver for night.

Dear Marylou:  In May, I will be starting a new job.  Any advice on what to wear?  I will be working as an executive assistant in a public relations firm. 

I’m 20, 5 ft. 5 and size 12.__E.K., Chicago, IL.

Dear E.K.:  Wait to select any new clothes until you have worked for the company a week or so and seen what your co-workers wear. Then you can decide if you want to join the crowd or stand out in it.

Dear Marylou:  I say brocade is older than. lace.  My classmate says lace is older.  Who is correct?—P.L., New York, NY.

Dear P.L.:  You are!  Brocade dates from the 6th Century.  Lace dates from the early 16th Century. In this time of fashion nostalgia, both are back importantly.

Dear Marylou:  Of all the trends for spring, which one do you see as the most wearable by most people?__C.C., Lincoln, NE.

Dear C.C.:  My favorite fashion calling for spring where you live is to be a sport.  Score in biker shorts.  Catch a wave in scuba gear.  Run home in a baseball jacket.  Jog to the gym in track pants.  Get your game on in mesh.

And intuit the inuit in an anorak.


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

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