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An architect has an eye for the design of clothing


In Myrna Poirier's life, fashion turns up in unexpected places. Photos of beautiful clothes hang from her office walls. Pictures of organza dresses peek out of her cookbook. And Ms. Poirier, an architect, says building a house is akin to building a great shoe.

"Clothing design, when it's done well, is an art form," says Ms. Poirier, 53, who lives in Fells Point. "It's similar to seeing a beautiful sculpture or painting. It does something to all your senses."

How would you describe your style?

Simple. When I look at clothes, I first look at the lines, the fabric and the color. When I was young, my mother taught me a lot about color and fabric. If I look at clothes on a rack, those that attract me are silks, linens, nice cottons. They're more fitted than loose. In colors, I like chartreuse, bright yellow, white, black and gray. But I also believe that blue jeans, a nice jacket and heels can take you anywhere.

Were your parents in the fashion business?

My father had a men's clothing store called William Robinson Ltd. on Charles Street. It had really fine suits. My mother helped out at the store. She was the one who took me shopping.

Who are your favorite designers, and where do you buy their clothes?

I favor Italian designers -- Genny and Armani. I shop at Nordstrom, Loehmann's and Cross Keys.

How has being an architect influenced your style?

Perhaps it's made me more aware of Italian design -- whether it's furniture, lighting or clothes. In both fields, you're dealing with proportion, line, materials and texture.

When it comes to clothes, what's your real passion?

Beautiful fabrics. I'll buy a piece of clothing because I have to have the fabric. I have a few skirts like that. One is a wonderful linen with eyelet embroidery. I couldn't resist it, even though I didn't need it.

Another time I came home with this skirt and top outfit. It was a size 14. I wore a size 6 or 8. It was dressy. I never got dressed up then. But it was this beautiful sheer silk in jewel tone colors by Bill Blass. I couldn't resist. I got it altered, and I wore it a lot. I even had friends who borrowed it. Fifteen years later, I still wear the top with blue jeans.

Blue jeans seem to be big with you.

You can dress them up or dress them down. They don't show stains right away, and I'm always spilling things. They're also an equalizer. People who wear jeans can be rich or poor. I'll wear them to work. But if I have a conservative client, I'll watch what I wear. I don't want to upset anybody.

How do you stay stylish in this heat?

Since I don't have air conditioning, I wear a lot of loose, cool dresses. I'll pull my hair back in a braid and put on a hat.

What outfit makes you feel your best?

I have a silk jacket by Genny that I bought at Ruth Shaw. It's bluish-purple with small flowers. I'll wear it with black pants or a skirt and beaded earrings.

What kind of impression do you hope your clothes make?

Simple and elegant. For me, clothes give a feeling. I once saw a dress with a hood. I can't even remember what color it was. It was many years ago. But I still dream about that dress. It was a thing of beauty.

Have you been inspired by the fashion scene around Fells Point?

In Fells Point, anything goes. I can't say I've been influenced by any of it, but I do sometimes think it would be neat to have purple hair.

Do you know some dressers? Let us know. Write to Mary Corey, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.

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