IN dispatches from the latest fashion shows...


IN dispatches from the latest fashion shows in Paris, the New York Times has proclaimed the '90s as "the era of backlash."

As proof -- or at least a manifestation -- of the trend, a critic cites the "embrace of fat men by the fashion community."

Two men's magazines are planning features about "attractive corpulence," while two men's shows have featured "more bulging stomachs than chiseled cheekbones" on the runways.

As one editor, Aldo Pramoli of "L'Uomo Vogue," told the Times, "A fat man has, at the same time, a touch of humor and power. In Indian and Arabic movies the gods and goddesses are fat. In that culture and economy, fat is beautiful and powerful. The shape of the person communicates that this person lives well and is comfortable with himself."

To illustrate his point, Mr. Pramoli referred to a story in the February issue of his magazine about the artist Julian Schnabel. "The idea is his strength, Mr. Pramoli said. "He is fat, and his painting is strong because he's fat."

Needless to say, this trend seems to hold true only for men. Next to the fat-is-in report is an item about the latest fashion for women -- sheer stretch dresses to be worn layered under or over other dresses or over camisoles and miniskirts.

As any woman knows, that is not a style designed to flatter the fuller female figure.

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