Fashionably flat-busted

Look for dirty looks, plus a few live sheep.

By Carina Chocano

Published February 26, 2001 8:08PM (EST)

Ding-dong, the Palm Bitch is dead. The super-luxe look went into death throes the first time it laid eyes on Katherine Harris, and expired after one long, soul-searching look at Denise Rich. It sure was Absolutely Fabulous while it lasted, though.

At Dior, they are taking the crash literally. Their new print ads feature, in one photo, a model slumped against what looks like the side of a rain-slickened, grimy car, completely doused in a mixture of water and motor oil. She is clutching her fatigue-print Dior saddlebag for dear life. You would, too, if your handbag were worth more than your stock portfolio.

In another photo, she appears, after a quick wardrobe change, to have been rescued. She is still doused in motor oil and covered in rags, but at least she's sitting in the back seat of a '50s muscle car. She is playing her light blue and yellow Dior bag with the chrome handle-buckle like a Stratocaster. She may be dressed in torn and soiled rags, but she is a post-apocalyptic survivor and a rebel besides.

This month's international fashion shows reflected the shell-shocked, penurious mood of the times -- and for those who attend the shows, penuriousness is pretty much just limited to a "mood." The look of the moment is extreme hardship. Designers interpreted the hot new poverty in all manner of ways, from bag lady chic to "We're all in the Third World now, baby."

Donna Karan's "post-apocalyptic" 2001 spring collection included nearly 20 bronze and gold vicuna dresses that were stained, waxed and molded; as Fashion Wire Daily put it, they "summed up Donna's achievement of balancing the new with the post-apocalyptic -- perhaps prompted by her stock's slow meltdown."

The New York Daryl K. Fall 2001 show included some petty criminal looks, liberally mixed with a sort of Y2K/"Mad Max" aesthetic. Combat jackets, slashed jersey shirts and big sweaters sported zippers down the arms. Models wore military caps and Daniel Boone-style hunting hats with thick raccoon tails, the better to defend their property and grab some lunch. Kerrigan's collection also included a red "ninja" dress with a sleeve that turned into a hood at the neck.

Meanwhile, designer Miguel Adrover -- formerly penniless pioneer of the "Look what I just dug out of the garbage!" look last year -- spent six weeks in Egypt researching for his fall/winter 2001 collection. Adrover's crowded show -- held at a Lower East Side fish market -- featured some women who were not models and a few real live sheep. Aside from caftans, layered tunics, harem pants and Janissaries jodhpurs, Fashion Wire Daily's Godfrey Deeny reports that "Adrover also sent out dirty working women in stained djellabahs, nomads with bulky packages tottering on their heads and cross-dressing Cairo businesswomen." No wonder the department store buyers in the front row looked confused.

Carina Chocano

Carina Chocano writes about TV for Salon. She is the author of "Do You Love Me or Am I Just Paranoid?" (Villard).

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