Great designer clothes never die


NEW YORK The second-hand market for couture clothes has been growing. The cost of new couture clothing, the made-to-order Paris clothes shown in July and January, has gotten unreal.

"The French couture has become a major collectible," said Gene London, a costume designer and collector.

Barneys New York has been selling vintage couture since its women's store opened in 1986. The store currently has pieces by Chanel, Guy Laroche and Pierre Balmain and intricately beaded 20's flapper dresses.

There is also a market for so-called Hollywood couture. These were clothes made by such designers as Gilbert Adrian, the MGM designer, during the 1930s, when Seventh Avenue designers went to the movies with a sketch pad.

"It's like buying cloth art," said London, who has a large collection of Hollywood and Paris couture clothes at his showroom at 897 Broadway, between 19th and 20th streets.

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