London; Nautical fashions, the '50s, Indian influences, long hemlines, and a blaze of color - orange, lemon, lime, pink, turquoise - highlight new looks
ASTRONAUT Bruce McCandless, peering down from space, may well have noted that London is now ablaze with color. We've come out of our long gray-and-black winter fashion, and the scene dazzles the eye with scorching orange, lemon, a lime not seen for years, and a marriage of pink with turquoise.
And not only is the color colorful: It's fluorescent as well.
Spring's traditional navy is about, too, notably so in the sleek wool one-button suits with their low-notch white pique revers at royal couturier Hardy Amies. But the young scene has discovered hot color with the enthusiasm of a Bedouin reaching an oasis well.
London has yet again become a ''must'' stopover for the talent scouts from overseas stores, for the resurgence of young new talent is strong. At the recent mid-season fashion fair, an intelligent event whereby shops and boutiques can top up the spring fashion orders they placed way back at normal October buying season, there were many new names ready to supply garments to the shops within a month.
''I'll have another mile of orange poplin, Harry'' became almost an ''in'' joke phrase as the orders flew in there.
Most popular shapes: the tap dancer full shorts, the crop top, revealing midriff, the skirt or trouser waist wrapped round again and again. Trousers swag with deep pannier pockets, and dresses focus all attention on hip swathing (as did the Paris couture) or in total torso ruching (again as did the Paris couture).
Surprise fabrics will adorn your back this spring - satin, for instance. This is now chopped into triangles and rectangles and inserted not into party dresses but into white track tops. Slogans and funny Pierrot heads are sometimes painted on that white satin for extra dash down at the disco.
But every fashion carries, in the very same season, its opposite. So of course besides the satin for spring we have the rustic look. Many fabrics are coarse jute, cotton mixed with linen, almost anything creamy and porridgy and tough. Part of this is the economic necessity of making up in India, where such rustic fabrics abound. Part of it is the influence of the new young Japanese with their crunchy fabrics. Part of it goes along with the new fashion for being deliberately crinkled, with a seersucker look. Even the new nylons, used for bomber jackets and trousers, for three-quarter jackets over track suits, are crunched up and crinkled. Knits follow suit: The new drill is for a creased look , a waffle weave on your sweater; and this continues strongly into autumn in the French separates ranges shown here, too.
These rustic cottons are joined by our old friend cotton chambray for a cool revival of a '50s favorite: the shirtwaister dress. Only now it comes, and is young Britain's taste, within four inches of your ankles. Married to this trim silhouette is the continuation of both safari and military looks - the traditional khaki is new, mixed with cobalt blue or yellow to give it a lift.
Wild Polynesian and Hawaiian jungle prints swirl in circular '50s skirts, their separate tops cuff-necked as in old Sandra Dee movies.
India is strong in Britain's hearts and minds this spring with the recent TV serial of Paul Scott's ''Raj Quartet'' over 14 weeks, and designers have not been slow to unfurl sleek maharajah tunics in white linen, cream tussore shirtwaist dresses, white voile memsahib party dresses, and long scarfs to wind as turbans. You can choose your ideas from Indian India or, contrariwise, from those lovely '20s and '30s bias-cut low-waist dresses worn by British girls in India, as seen in the film ''Heat and Dust.''
Nautical fashion sails in every three or four years and is riding the waves well now, with several designers plunking huge white sailor collars and neckties on everything. It teams well with the current passion for the hip-seam dress, seen in clothes by royal wedding dressmakers the Emanuel and by Laura Ashley.
British girls, first to adopt the long swirling skirts now shown in New York by Calvin Klein and Perry Ellis, remain loyal to them, and a great number of spring's collections here keep on this look. Even the more traditional mass manufacturers have dropped hems below the knee.