Creative cutouts


First it was the return of sheer fabrics several seasons ago that heralded a new emphasis on the female form and allowed women to show off their healthy, well-toned bodies. Well, almost show off but not quite. The diaphanous organzas and filmy chiffons acted somewhat as veils, hinting rather than totally revealing.

Then came shorter and shorter skirts, bare midriffs and a preponderance of sleeveless jackets, dresses and tops that showed more and more skin.

Now, for this spring and summer, designers have come up with even more ingenious means of baring a bit or a lot of body. Slices have been carved from some dresses, backs have been scooped out, dresses have had portions whittled away so that they look like separates rather than one-piecers.

Designer Carolyne Roehm says, "others may believe that the legs are the last to go, but, for me, the back stays young-looking the longest and is truly beautiful. Baring it can be provocative but never really vulgar."

Some of the more interesting means of cutting into clothes are examples from Nicole Miller (who designed numerous neckline treatments that give the effect of a necklace being worn with a strapless dress) and Michael Kors (many of his dresses actually look like strapless tops with skirts, though they're joined at some point).

The point is: Clothes have been getting sheerer, shorter and barer and women seem not reluctant to reveal more of their bodies. So, for spring and summer, designers have simply become more creative.

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