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The rays of the rising sunAsian touches...


The rays of the rising sun

Asian touches showed up in several couture collections for spring. Christian Dior and Jean Paul Gaultier, for example, both showed kimono-shaped garments. These were the newest of the new and at the same time an old story -- yet more evidence of Japan's centuries-long influence on Western clothing.

The Brooklyn Museum of Art is currently documenting the power of that influence in a show full of garments gorgeous enough to knock your split-toe socks off. "Japonism in Fashion: Japan Dresses the West" includes historical Japanese clothes as well as designs from the likes of Worth, Poiret, Bonnie Cashin, Rudi Gernreich and Yohji Yamamoto. Shown are two dresses made using kimono fabric, one from the 1870s (left) and one from the 1930s (above).

The exhibit continues through Feb. 14. The soft-cover catalog costs $29.95 plus $8 shipping and handling from the museum's gift shop, 718-638-5000, Ext. 237. Be warned: The text is all in Japanese. But the many full-color photos of breathtakingly beautiful clothes tell their story with an eloquence that needs no words.

Pure Bliss

Twenty-five years ago, Clearasil was the average American woman's idea of a skin treatment, and skin-treatment spas were strictly a European thing.

Times change, thank goodness, and spas are here now, big-time. I think they came on the same boat as lattes, because they've been spreading like Starbucks ever since.

Bliss Spa in New York City is one of the hottest. Its thing is an engaging mix of humor and hipness. A video of "An American Werewolf in London" is said to play in the electrolysis room, but the company gets beyond giggles with such seriously desirable lines as Decleor, Bobbi Brown, Stila and Tony & Tina, as well as its own treatments. (Shown are Bliss' Big Blue Bar soap, $15, and Bath Bubblers, $21.)

The spa itself is a bit far for us Marylanders, but the catalog, called BlissOut, is available from 888-243-8825. And the Web site, full of Bliss-y humor, can be found at -- A.M.C.

Feminine turns

Sometimes catalogs are ahead of runway fashions; more often they're behind. Occasionally, though, the Zeitgeist gets really busy, and the two get to the same look at the same time.

Anthropologie, for example, has among its spring offerings a lavender eyelet dress (left, $128) that's a kissing cousin to an $875 Marc Jacobs' spring design. Both dresses update the slip dress by moving the waist high up under the bust and adding short sleeves that daintily cap the shoulders.

No copycatting was involved, says an Anthropologie spokeswoman. It's just that feminine, embellished styles are "what's out there right now, a reaction to what was out there last year" -- i.e., the dark, severe uniform of minimalism.

Fashion-forwardness is what you might expect of Anthropologie, which was started in 1992 to cater to the 25- to 45-year-old "graduates" of the clothes made by its hipster parent company, Urban Outfitters.

Call 800-309-2500 for a catalog, or check out the Web site at www.anthropologie .com. Or drive out to the Anthropologie store at 11500 Rockville Pike in Rockville.

-- A.M.C.

Mouse and money

Rarely can you make a teen-ager and her parents happy at the same time, but dELiA*s may have succeeded.

The direct-mail company, which sells right-on-target clothes and other goods to trend-conscious teens, has had a Web site ( for a while. But last month it expanded its Internet presence by opening an online "store" on the Yahoo! Shopping service, which you might describe as an online mall.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Yahoo deal sent dELiA*s shares up 67 percent -- which should make Mom and Dad happy if the company is in their portfolio.

And I don't hear any complaints from any junior misses with a mouse in one hand and a credit card in the other -- do you? -- A.M.C.

Pub Date: 01/31/99

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