FASHION / The fickle skirt: Up we go again

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The Independent Culture
THE CLOTHES you see here should not be taken on board by anyone too old to be smitten with Take That. But the truth for us all in 1994 is plain to see. Just as you'd said hello to the new long skirt, it's time to say goodbye. Just as you had learnt to walk properly in those long skinny sheaths, they're about to look as dated as a pair of flappy flares. Choice is all very well, but as soon as you have chosen, fashion spins its wheel once more and snaps: 'Wrong] Too late]' The old long skirt is - sorry - on its way out.

This is going to be the year of 'short' (again), with the itsy bitsy little skirts we observed from the side of the catwalk released into the shops. Some of them are already out there, teamed with silver strappy sandals and knee-high socks in a look that can only spell 'tart' to those old enough to remember dancing round your clutch bags last time around. In a reversal of George Bernard Shaw's dictum, fashion is not wasted on the young; these days it's only those young enough to have no fashion memory at all who can enjoy it.

To me, Argyll socks and court shoes, bobby socks and sheer black tights scream 'No]'. But I have now lived through 10 years of matt black Lycra tights, and I've got used to them. To me, pastel skirts and tiny tops recall teenage disco dance routines in front of Pan's People on the telly. I just couldn't bear to Tardis-dress back there again. But then I'm not supposed to - at least, not yet.

Short is shocking. It has been every time it has reappeared as a fashion trend, which, despite the opinion of sociologists, psychologists, market analysts et al, has

nothing, in my opinion, to do with the rise and fall of the economy, and almost everything to do with boredom and a desire for the next new thing. Now, early in the year, shorty- short (and we're even talking really short slips that would have been sold as tops last year) raises an eyebrow. We'll get used to it.

After all, we took to it in the mid-Eighties - we took to knee grazers, then thigh grazers and then what the fashion trade charmingly used to refer to as 'pussy pelmets'. Most women ended up with their skirts hovering somewhere

between knee and hip with an expanse of forgiving matt

tights in between. This is how most women, not young

enough, brave enough or daft enough for knee socks or bobby socks, will take to it again.

This is the moment for those unlikely participants in

the short/long skirt debate which raged at the beginning

of last year, when even the Telegraph's proprietor entered

the fray, to rise up and chorus: 'I told you so.' And when

long comes back - and it will - the rest of us will have our

chance to rise again. -

THE YEAR IN SHORT

For spring/summer 1994, skirts went from knicker-skimming - a good 14in above the knee - through micro - about 10in above the knee - to mid-thigh - 6in above the knee and probably where skirt lengths will settle. But some designers still opted for knee-length, calf-length, ankle-length (about 17in below the knee), right down to floor- length (about 20in below the knee). Here is an at-a-glance guide to which designers ended their skirts where.

IN MILAN

Dolce e Gabbana: 10in above knee

Versace: 10in above knee

Alberta Ferretti: mid-thigh, about 6in above knee

Prada: knee-length, but see-through

Genny: 6in above knee

Sportmax: 6in above knee

Hamnett: 10in above knee

Armani: ankle-skimming

Jil Sander: 6in above knee and mid-calf

Ozbek: knicker-skimming - 14in above knee

IN PARIS

Issey Miyake: mid-thigh, about 7in above knee

Galliano: knicker-skimming kilts about 14in above knee, and also floor-length

Lacroix: can't make his mind up

Gaultier: mostly ankle-length

Vivienne Westwood: bum-pelmets or floor-length

Corinne Cobson: knicker skimming or floor-length

Ann Demeulemeester: floor-length

Helmut Lang: mid-thigh (the ugliest length but probably where it will settle)

Martin Margiela: ankle and floor-length

Valentino: thigh grazing - acceptably short

Comme des Garcons: ankle-length

Yohji Yamamoto: micro-short

Lagerfeld: ugly knee-length and micro - about 10in above knee

Chanel: about 10in above knee

Chloe: mid-thigh

Yves Saint Laurent: mid-thigh

Dior: ankle-length

Gigli: ankle-length

Marcel Marongiu: ankle-length

IN LONDON

Flyte Ostell: ankle-length

John Rocha: ankle and mid-thigh

Bella Freud: short - 8in above knee

Betty Jackson: long - mostly ankle- length

Sonja Nuttall: ankle-length

Abe Hamilton: ankle-length

Sonnentag Mulligan: ankle-length

IN NEW YORK

Donna Karan: about 10in above knee

Calvin Klein: micro and ankle-length

Liza Bruce: about 10in above knee

Ralph Lauren: micro and ankle-length

Isaac Mizrahi: tiny-mini-micro

Anna Sui: micro-length

LIST COMPILED BY TAMSIN BLANCHARD

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