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Animal prints roar back into fashion


Q: I love animal prints. They look good on me, and they work with both my summer and winter wardrobes. I hear they are back again this season. I want to go shopping soon. Can you tell me what I should look for?

A: Crocodile prints -- in many different sizes -- are the designers' choice for fall. You'll find them on ready-to-wear and on accessories such as scarves, tights and gloves.

Todd Oldham, who is known for his colorful, exotic prints, says crocodiles are his pick of the season. He uses them -- in natural colors -- on his jackets, blouses, pants and skirts.

"I love animal prints. I never feel happy unless I have one or two in the collection," he says.

"As you can imagine, it's quite a job to find something fresh. But this crocodile has that something special. It's new, sexy and looks good day and evening."

Q: I am 16 years old with straight hair to my shoulders. I want to get a spiral perm to make my hair curly. But people say it could ruin my hair. What do you think?

A: I went to Borja of the Borja Color Salon in New York. She is a color and chemical treatment expert who often works with young girls, many of whom are daughters of her regular clients.

She warns against going permanently from straight to curly.

"Spirals are great, but you should experiment first before making such a big change. Get a packet of little sponge sticks. Make sure your hair is damp. Take sections and roll them around to create spirals.

"Then dry your hair and carefully remove the sticks. You will be able to see what you would look like after a spiral perm."

Borja suggests that if you do decide to get the perm to consider starting with a soft wave.

"Ask for an ammonia-free perm because it is gentle. And remember it is much more difficult and expensive to fix a bad perm than to get a good one."

Q: I am in my early 60s. I have just moved to Florida and am spending much more time in the sun, and I find that my skin is getting more wrinkled and blotchy. I'd like something to even out my skin tone, but I don't want anything that is too heavy. I love pink, but I'm not sure if it fits with my age.

There doesn't seem to be much information about products for older women, and I would love some advice.

A: I'm happy to tell you there are some experts who are concerned about the problems of older women. One of them is Rex Hilverdink, make-up artist and author of "Forever Beautiful With Rex: Beauty Strategies for the Rest of Your Life."

His first suggestion is to stay out of the sun.

"The sun may make you feel good, but it is definitely not good for your skin. If you insist, find a water-base foundation with a high sun block. It should have the consistency of liquid but not be thick. Choose the shade that is slightly darker than your natural color so it will even out blemishes."

Mr. Hilverdink recommends applying the foundation with a damp sponge, so it will go on the skin more smoothly. "After applying the make-up, blot with a tissue and check closely to see that your skin is evenly colored."

As for pink, Mr. Hilverdink thinks it could be great for you.

"Since you are in the sun a lot, you must have a tan. That means pinks with beige undertones are perfect for you.

"As you grow older you will find pink is a good friend. Pink is a symbol of youth and beauty."

Q: A friend of ours is getting married next month and having a big reception in the grand ballroom of one of Los Angeles' most luxurious hotels.

We are friends of the groom only, and I don't feel it appropriate for me to ask the bride's family what I should wear. I have a long black beaded gown that I love, but I don't want to feel out of place if everyone else is wearing short.

A: New York design team Mark Badgley and James Mischka agree with me that unless it is a morning wedding, a long gown is always appropriate in a luxurious setting.

"As for feeling out of place, at least one other person will be wearing a long gown -- the bride," said Mr. Mischka.

He added that for your husband a tuxedo would be suitable, but as you are friends of the groom, check with him.

Elsa Klensch welcomes questions from readers. While she cannot reply individually, she will answer those of general interest in her column. Send questions to Elsa Klensch, Los Angeles Times Syndicate, 218 S. Spring St., Los Angeles, Calif. 90012.

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