Washington Life Magazine
Washington Life Magazine
The Future of Fashion in the New Millennium What will Washington's best-dressed men and women be wearing in the new millennium? What styles and designers will they don for the new year and beyond?

By Mary K. Mewborn

As we stand at the brink of the first century of the next millennium, we find the fashion world populated by designers like Roman Janus who is conspiring to create forward-looking fashion trends with one eye appropriately focused on preserving the best of the centuries past. Some such as Gucci's Tom Ford look back thirty years to the seventies for their inspi-ration. Others look back seventy years to the 1930s. Some have re-vived the Victorian corset, and still others, the 18th century's lavish opulence. Still more have drawn their ideas from the dawn of mankind, with fur and animal prints once again wildly popular.


Retro, vintage, classic, and yes, even prehistoric, are thus all adjectives with which to describe the future of fashion, even as the industry strives to be at once cutting-edge and thoroughly modern, yet timeless. And what of that split second between "out with the old" and "in with the new"? As we begin our jour-ney into the new millennium, what will Washingtoni-ans be wearing to toast the year 2000?

The world's foremost fashion experts all agree that for Washington women long is the first must this New Year's Eve. Whether in the form of a taffeta ball gown, slinky silk body-skimming chemise, or crinoline and satin skirt, hemlines will be formal at floor lengths or beyond. So too, the experts agree that fur is in. Whether it's a fur-trimmed gown by Robert Danes or Christian Dior, a fur-edged shawl from Chanel, or a full-length coat from Furs of Kiszely, everything from sable and chinchilla to rabbit and beaver will adorn wealthy Washingtonians this New Year's Eve.

Of course it wouldn't be New Year's Eve without the trademark tuxedo. First popularized at a New York country club in 1886, it is a fashion statement which will surely survive into yet a third century and beyond. Better still, its chic elegance of style and fine lines remain an option for women as well. Locally, Max-Mara offers tuxedo-style black and white two-piece gowns with fitted bodices, spaghetti straps, and jackets at prices ranging from $1500 to $2200.

For men, a custom-fitted, handcrafted tuxedo from Sabatini's of London Cus-tom Clothiers is a must. As the fifth generation of de-signers and master tailors to serve the world's rich and famous, Izak Sabatini brings the fine art of cus-tom- tailoring into the next cen-tury with his internationally-acclaimed "Millennium Col-lection". The Collection in-cludes two newly-designed tuxedos: the "Prince William" and "Prince Ed-ward". The first is named in honor of the late Princess Diana's son and is an off-white, double-breasted tux with navy blue silk collar, lapels and pocket flaps. It is available in summer-kid mohair, cashmere, or silk. The second tuxedo pays homage to the newly-wed Prince Edward. It is constructed of the finest fabrics from Draper's of Lon-don and features a single-breasted jacket. Both tuxedos come with a pair of white trousers as well as a pair of navy trousers "for more formal occasions." Each is priced at $7,500. Among the many interna-tional, national, and local celebrities Mr. Sabatini has personally fitted and who may well toast the new year elegantly at-tired in one of his tuxedos are President Clinton, Oliver North, the Ambassador of Costa Rica, David Letterman, and Muhammad Ali.

Mr. Sabatini offers women their own "Millennium Tuxedo" with jacket and skirt, as well as a stunningly spectacular gown. The ladies' tuxedo is the eye-catching "Queen Narriman." Named for the former Queen of Egypt, it is fashioned from 100% pure white silk and blue satin. The gown is the breath-takingly beautiful "Princess Grace Mil-lennium Gown". Designed by Mr. Saba-tini himself, the Millennium Gown of plum satin with intricate cutwork em-broidery over a silk underskirt took the talented artisan fifty painstaking hours to skillfully fashion by hand. The origi-nal masterpiece has an estimated value of $45,000.

Women in search of outerwear for that special New Year's celebration may wish to order a one-of-a-kind cloth coat from Mr.Sabatini then visit Furs of Kiszely to add a de-tachable fur collar or cuffs. Of course, for those for whom price is no object, Mr. Kiszely's wide array of lustrous and luxurious fur coats offers some noteworthy standouts. Foremost among them is his exclusive Russian sable coat, a steal at $185,000. So too, his black mink opera coat, crafted from the finest pelts, is an exceptional value at a mere $50,000. One might also wish to consider a mink stroller with cheetah-print stenciling. Still another innova-tive fashion statement comes in the form of a 7/8-length fur coat, not only an excellent choice to complement one's evening attire but a great option for use as daywear as well. Still more affordable alternatives are soft cashmere wool wraps and flings, trimmed with sable or chinchilla.

Neiman Marcus also offers luxurious fur-trimmed cashmere and pashmina wraps to complement its eveningwear. For the look of vintage apparel, try the beaded, sequined, and embroidered dresses, or the full skirts paired with sweater sets decorated with appliqués, all of which "appear to be handcrafted" thanks to tech-nological advances. Designers include Yves Saint Laurent, Oscar de la Renta, Bill Blass, Halston, Christian Dior, and John Galliano, to name but a few.

The Chanel label is also a popular choice for this New Year's Eve,so popular in fact, that Chanel's $2,370 black and white felt evening gown with gauntlet sleeves has all but sold out. Meanwhile, Saks Jandel,which prides itself on being "the future of fashion" since 1888, has a stun-ning "Millennium Dress" by designer Naeem Khan. Decorated with multicolored sequins, this exciting num-ber has been described by fashion expert Rhoda Norris as having the same impact as a burst of "fireworks". At once festive and fun, who wouldn't want to sparkle in Saks Jandel's "Millennium Dress"? Priced at only $950 it is a great choice for celebrating the bright hopes and glowing expectations of a new era.

As we count down to the year two thousand, some fashion experts predict that the stroke of midnight will signal an end to glitz and a return to a more sophisticated and refined elegance. They foresee white and blue be-coming the most popular colors.

While throughout the faddish frenzy of fashion his-tory, the rule has typically been "here today, gone tomor-row," there are the exceptions that make the rule. One such notable exception is Hermes. Seemingly as immor-tal as the Greek god from whom it takes its name, this162-year-old house of fashion transcends time and will not be rushed into the new millennium. Indeed Hermes' theme for its 2000 Collection will not be re-vealed even one second before the dawn of the new age on January First. Nevertheless, one can predict with de-finitive accuracy that the timeless, classic designs for which Hermes is known will continue to be the choice for generations to come of men and women who are "confident in their personal style."

Forever in step with fashion, Hermes did announce in early October its latest collection of skins from which it will create its signature shoes, bags, satchels, and carrying cases. For women, Hermes' calfskin pumps will remain a classic, with only slight changes to the shape of their heels. However, streamline clogs in fabric are a new addi-tion to Hermes' line of footwear, as is the espadrille boot made of linen and canvas.

For men, Hermes' jacquard wool and silk ties are ex-pected to be a bit wider in the new year, though many will still sport the popular animal prints.

MaxMara, considered by many the reigning leader in sportswear, and whose initials are the Latin numerals for 2000, intends to ensure that denim and jeans will remain with us into the next millennium, even if Gucci's Spring '00 fashion show in Milan last month chose not to pro-mote the jean-styles for which it has been such a driving force. Other MaxMara offerings include retro-style ciga-rette pants, short cropped tops over shorts, and the use of techno-nylon fabrics which although pricey,are virtually assured to last a lifetime thanks to the wonders of mod-ern science. In general, colors range from creams and reds to pastels,including lime green. Stretch products utilizing triasitates are all the rage, and for weekend wear, Sports Max has been hailed as the perfect choice for the active fashion-conscious shopper.

One controversial bit of news coming out of MaxMara, is that the miniskirt is out. This view has not however been confirmed by others in the fashion industry. Rather, many fashion establishments predict that hemlines for daywear will continue to run the gamut from short to long,and that "anything goes" in 2000 and beyond.

An area of agreement among the top designers, stores, and fashion houses, pertains to the ongoing popularity of feminine sweaters as more than just a passing fancy. Almost without exception, it seems that soft knitted sweaters and skirts, supple sweater dresses, and suits of "buttery and luxurious fabrics" are in. Surely too the sweater trend is a testament to the lifestyles choice of "casual elegance", the buzzword for daily wear for the foreseeable future. Beaded cashmere cardigans and matching skirts, sleeveless turtlenecks with capes, versatile sweaters which go from sporty to dressy and back again, and even short cropped novelty sweaters of knitted fur in bright colors are a "must have". One house which perfectly epitomizes the essence of femininity and of casual elegance, is Chanel. The Chanel suit, which dates from the 1920sand the golden age of the Cote d'Azur, is as much in the fore-front of fashion now as when Coco Chanel first popu-larized the suntan and painted toenails. Today, there is an ease about the Chanel suit which has been described as "contemporary informality" at its finest. One recent offering with a knee-length skirt and ruffled, loose-fit-ted jacket, goes for just slightly more than $3,200. Still other Chanel suits can be had starting at a thousand dollars and up, in everything from silk, linen, and tweed, to wool and knit blends, with or without fur collars.

Saks Jandel's sports line and daywear collection also contains cashmere sweaters and wraps, including cozy cropped sweaters, fur-trimmed sweaters, and fabulous wool knits from Michael Kors and others.

Standing on the brink of the new millennium, Gucci's Tom Fordre inforces the move toward casual elegance by stepping back a bit from the edge to give us Yves Saint Laurent's seventies look of "streamline simplicity". While his trademark style still combines the "haughtiness of a wealthy debutante, with the brashness of a punk rocker" to achieve a provocative and sexy combination of femi-ninity and animal magnetism, the clothes themselves are more understated even if the message still rings clear. Thus for Spring 2000 we'll see barely there "shimmering jersey"which appears to slither over the body, "wispy" snakeskin-looking dresses, and small jackets with reptil-ian patterns, all of which seem seductively symbolic of the Garden of Eden.

With such visions in mind, perhaps the history of mankind in fashion and of women's place in the world has indeed come full circle. As we face the future, it is a new beginning. And if as it should be, fashion is ulti-mately a reflection of our lives, then one can only hope that we need not hide our nakedness behind a fig leaf. In-stead we shall hope that seductive yet refined, comfort-able but elegant, and simple yet sophisticated style, will withstand the test of time, not only for the year 2000 but for the great beyond.


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