As many women here are still grappling with spring's ne silhouettes and trying to decide which way to go, the fashion industry is showing and selling next fall's looks.
In Milan, Paris and London, the message is as mixed as the Eurobabble in the showrooms. Skirts are long and short, pants are wide and skin-tight, fabrics are black or bright and the look is refined or tattered.
Do not, repeat, do not get rid of anything in your closet until designers and buyers sort it all out a few months from now.
There are some disturbing signs. Bad-boy Jean-Paul Gaultier showed a collection based on Eastern European village looks. The show offended some, tickled others. In runway photos published in Women's Wear Daily, the models looked like players in an amateur production of "Fiddler on the Roof." Oy, vey, Gaultier!
Continuing the poor-but-proud tradition is Donna Karan, who in fall advance photos showed clothes along "immigrant" themes -- caps, rough fabrics, unpressed suits. The Ellis Island look gone high fashion.
The huddled masses came to America hoping their children would find success and be able to dress well. Had they only known.
Years ago, prominently displayed on the dressing tables of the moms of America were the distinctive cobalt blue and silver flacons of Evening in Paris perfume. It was an inexpensive brand sold in drugstores across the country and a favorite gift choice of children who wanted to wrap Mother in the aura of glamour. Aren't mothers wonderful? They were always so thrilled with the gift.
Anitra Earle, a "perfume detective" who works out of Chicago, says Evening in Paris is still being made in France by the Bourjois company. She recently found a shipment of 100 bottles of 1.7 ounce eau de parfum spray at $42. Not a drugstore price; remember, $42 bought lots of groceries in the 1940s.
Ms. Earle is in the business of tracking down favorite fragrances which are no longer available at department store counters.
"Many of the old perfumes are still being manufactured, but there is not enough sales volume or interest in them, so department stores don't want to bother," she says.
Need some My Sin, Odalisque by Nettie Rosenstein or K by Krizia? Caribbean parfumeries and duty-free shops may be a good source for travelers, but Ms. Earle advises caution. "The islands are hot and heat is a perfume's worst enemy."
Those looking for a lost fragrance should send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Anita Earle, Perfume Detective, 21 E. Chestnut St., Chicago, Ill. 60611.