Trends and TVStay at home and stay...


Trends and TV

Stay at home and stay in vogue. Fashions, hot trends and interviews with designers and their stylish lifestyles are aired in VH-1's new series "FT -- Fashion Television." Toronto reporter Jeanne Becker keeps the show moving from runways to streets. This is the latest entry in the video fashion genre and is targeted at a more mature viewer, a bit more haute-hip than the hip-hop focus of MTV's "House of Style."

This week's new segment goes behind the scenes of the gala Council of Fashion Designers of America awards, shows the latest from Emanuel Ungaro and interviews supermodel Yasmeen Gauri.

Episodes premiere on Saturdays at 1 p.m. and repeat Sundays at 7 p.m., Thursdays at 6 p.m. and Fridays at noon. When Patti LaBelle walked into a press conference in Philadelphia recently, she was wearing a two-piece conservative black cashmere skirt-and-sweater ensemble and a shoulder-length wig.

Could it be?

Does the diva have a new attitude?

You bet. Lady LaBelle has embraced the stylish fashions of America's design powerhouse, Donna Karan.

"Her clothes are so classy, understated and they never go out of style. She gets the most incredible fabrics. They're so wonderful to touch. They not only look fabulous but they travel well and that's super important to me," Ms. LaBelle said.

"But it's not just the fabrics and designs, it's everything -- like the way she uses color, not in a loud 'look at me' kind of way but really soft like the celadon green suit that I wear all the time."

Ms. LaBelle used to buy Ms. Karan's clothes at retail stores until a few years ago, when someone introduced her to the designer. Since then, a front-row seat is reserved for Ms. LaBelle when Ms. Karan's collection debuts each spring and fall. And she now orders her clothes directly from the company.

Ms. LaBelle's closet is packed with Ms. Karan's elegant creations. She owns a dozen coats, a slew of suits, several cat suits and enough Donna Karan shoes to make Imelda Marcos green with envy.

"People are surprised when they see me at [Donna Karan's] shows or when I pop into her studios. I guess that's because they expect me to be flamboyant off-stage as well. But that ain't Patti.

"I'm a wife and a mother and in business, like millions of other American women. I go to school meetings and lots of community activities when I'm home. You don't do those things wearing big Patti stage hair and outrageous clothes -- that's for the show. Give me my good old [Donna Karan] cream silk man-tailored suit, a pair of D.K. loafers and I'm set, honey," she said. Word of longer lengths at the Paris spring couture shows and of hemlines dropping in the first American fall collections previewing on Seventh Avenue has set fashion antennae quivering. Are we looking at a style revolution in the making? The answer is no, though we are witnessing a fashion evolution.

By last fall, above-the-knee hemlines had become the length of choice. But avant-garde young women were yearning for something different. They started experimenting with longer looks. The fashion seers noticed and began their own downward shift. (This is fashion following its inevitable course. When any idea becomes completely acceptable, it's de rigueur to twitch it.)

There is a difference this time. High-fashion hemlines will go well below the knee. But they will not pre-empt those that rest above. Women lead such diverse lives today and are so independent that they will probably have every length in their wardrobe, all with a place and a purpose.

Shifting a hemline, however, is not merely a matter of adding a few more meters of fabric. As the savvy American designer Donna Karan said, "There is a newness to long, but you have to figure out what to put on the bit of leg that shows, and on the feet that are spotlighted."

Translation: there will be more changes afoot, like chunkier shoes and a strong return of the boot.

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