A Touch of Romance

IT started as one designer's vision several years ago. Six years later it's a well-established style. They call it Romantic Dressing. Its essence is lace and soft-flowing femininity. Its champion is Pat Kerr, a designer from Memphis, Tenn. A collector of antique lace, Mrs. Kerr says she began designing because she saw the ``sense and sensibility'' of lace dressing. Designing for brides was a natural first step, and soon Bergdorf Goodman and other major stores paid tribute to her in their windows. Then came the challenge of finding a permanent niche for her lace art in evening fashion. The reception was unanimous: Kerr fashion was art; she was a designer to be reckoned with. Her collections bring a fresh look to the timeless romance of lace.

``Every art is made to be seen,'' Kerr explains, ``and lacemaking is no exception. As a passionate collector of rare lace for many years, I can never think of it as a mere fashion material, but neither can I bear to see it treated as a quaint antique in a `period' costume.

``The challenge, I feel,'' she continues, ``is to preserve its beauty in a new guise, as contemporary fashion . . . . The silhouettes in this collection are pared down with proper regard for curves, grace, and allure that speak of today as clearly as the lace speaks of a romantic yesteryear.'' -- H. N.

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