UP TO THERE Miniskirts in two tiers take another turn for fall


PARIS -- Now it's official. The miniskirt emerged as the fashion of the hour in the fall shows of the couture houses here.

Gianni Versace started to unwrap the leg on opening day. Karl Lagerfeld used the micro-miniskirt as the partner of the new Chanel jacket. Yves Saint Laurent threw his scissors on the side of short clothes. In doing so, he reinstated his position as a leader of fashion, not a follower. His clothes, which had been on the conservative side for some time, developed a fresh new spin.

Almost always accompanied by a short jacket, the thigh-high skirt is made in two tiers, the main part in checked tweed, damask or wool, with a wide scalloped band of black lace added around the bottom. The transparent lace made the skirt look even shorter. The suits were designed for "the new Eve," the designer said after his show. He immediately corrected himself. "La nouvelle Eve," he said, explaining it sounded better in French. He was especially pleased with the way the lace borders turned out, he said.

They did indeed add a whimsical lingerie flavor to the suits and, in combination with chiffon or lame blouses, dressed up the suits for the cocktail hour.

The designer's fine eye for color also enhanced the basically tailored clothes. He added a hot pink scarf to a purple suit with a lime green blouse for a particularly satisfying medley. Black velvet figures significantly in the jackets and skirts. As an alternative to short skirts, Mr. Saint Laurent endorsed knickers with some enthusiasm.

All the daytime skirts cleared the knees, some by a considerable margin. But the floor-length ball gown still lives. Mr. Saint Laurent shows it in silk printed with big, flat flowers, in black velvet or white lace. For good measure he throws in deeply curving decolletages. There are times, apparently, when even the best mini won't do.

Valentino Garavani ended the fall shows last week with a collection that developed an Eastern spin after the Rome-based designer spent 10 days in China recently. Quilted coats stitched Chinese motifs, wide calf-length trousers, pagoda hats and hair worn in a single braid down the back are some of the clues to the Far East. But the designer aimed at evoking the spirit of the country, not reproducing any specific styles, he said.

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