Canada chooses feminine styling

Canadian fashions will usher in the new decade with a decidedly feminine approach. The narrow silhouette continues, but has added a feminine flurry of pleats. Some dresses are even flowing. There are touches of lace everywhere. Rigid construction is past history, and fall's widened shoulders are very much modified. Feminine accessories, such as pussycat bows to soften severe lines at the neck, top the fashion news. The waistline is thinly defined by narrower leather or soft fabric belts.

The odd marriage of a world crisis and short skirts seems to have appeared again. Spring is leveling the skirt to two inches below or above the knee. But one Ontario fashion expert predicts that most Canadian women will not accept the higher length.

Suits have re-established themselves firmly. Many emphasize the shaped waistline with short boxy jackets. Other jackets ride on the hips. Suits come in various fabrics and blends for a woman's nonstop day, with no particular fabric stealing the spotlight.

Soft gray is making a strong showing in the suit parade. It has even shown up in leather, as in Montreal Leather's walking suit with side slits. However, black and cream remain the top spring colors, alone or in combinations like a black skirt and a black-and-white mix in a short jacket.

Agreeing with the general suit picture are members of the Fashion Designers Association of Canada, composed of 21 members (and 25 associates) who design signature collections.

At the association's spring capsule showing in Montreal and Toronto, its executive director, Mary Stephenson, said: "The suit figures strongly as a wardrobe basic, composed of coordinated or elegantly monochromatic separates. Jacket shapes are fitted with peplums and waist emphasis, or are short and boxy, softly squared at the shoulders." Francois Guenet of Montreal, who is a tailoring experts, showed soft, lean classic suits with modest front and back slits.

In spring dresses, Leo Chevalier of Montreal (honored two years ago with the Order of Canada) featured arched shoulders in two floral prints with loose tops. One in bright yellow was edged in orange along the front slit. The other, in red floral, was wrap-skirted with flashes of colored lining. Hugh Garber of Toronto liked the new flow skirt in a pink-blue dotted fabric with gray jacket, blue lined.

The chemise is slowly making a return in a shorter, newer version, even appearing in chiffon.

In a sportswear, color is taking on a brighter look as a striped sweater, blue knickers, and a yellow jacket or a strapless purple playsuit with a red leather belt. Gabriel Levy of Vancouver, British Columbia, brought contrast colors to leather with a reddish leather skirt, a yellow suede top, and a lilac leather jacket. Linda Lindstorm of Toronto had a startling combination for evening in a tight-legged black jumpsuit covered by a pink, green, and black chiffon wrap coat or a wildly colored chiffon dress.

Although black and white still dominate the spring color spectrum, they are often accented with bright colors. Even John Warden of Montreal has combined his usual spring white of beige with bright red and purple. Popular colors on their own include shades of strawberry pink, daffodil yellow, mauve, and turquoise. Rainwear was especially colorful in the Onatrio Fashion Exhibitors' rain segment, with several purple and lilac iridescent models. Prints are strong in full-blown patterns.

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