Playful choices

Whoever said, "You are what you wear" might have to eat his words. Looking rich, whether you are or not, is the least of it in this sumptuous season. Fashion has probably never offered so many opportunities for play-acting and escape-dressing by tripping off to so many parts of the world and reaching back to so many times in history.

When day is done and office or homemaking cares are over, it is possible to become a Tolstoy heroine in a Garbo fur hat, embroidered sable-trimmed suede jacket, sweeping skirt, and decorative boots (thanks to Oscar de la Renta). Bill Blass provides the means to become Mary, Queen of Scots, for the night in taffeta skirt, velvet top with Elizabethan sleeves, and tartan sash across the chest. A French ready-to-wear creator went one better with the Queen of Hearts.

Perry Ellis takes his cues from America's Currier and Ives prints, with soft woodsy mixtures in colors of moss and stone and pinafore ruffles of 19th-century times. Ralph Lauren takes us to old times in the Southwest, as well as the golden days of Hollywood lore.

Many designers delved into buccaneer, crusader, musketeer, and other derring-do realms. Courtiers in knee breeches, middle-European brides in peasant regalia, and characters from Victorian, Oriental, Shakespearean, and English and French regency are all making their appearances.

Never a bore, fashion today is top entertainment. So why not enjoy it while it lasts?

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