FASHION : TUBULAR BELLES

They're stretchy, seamless and simple: but will DKNY's tube dresses and skirts become the new working women's essential, or are they an expensive gimmick for the very thin? By Tamsin Blanchard
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The Independent Culture
IN THE EIGHTIES, there was "the body", Donna Karan's revolutionary poppered foundation garment that became the basis of every working woman's wardrobe. All you needed was a couple of bodies, and a wrap-around skirt, and suddenly, life was simple (until, that is, you went to the lavatory). By the time Marks & Spencer had caught on to the idea, the body had joined black leggings as the ubiquitous bestseller. Now Donna Karan has come up with an idea which she hopes will become the new essential in the Nineties: the tube dress (or Thetubesystem, as she insists on calling - and spelling - it). At her spring/ summer DKNY Diffusion Line show in New York last November, models marched out wearing nothing but cylindrical tubes of stretchy high-tech Spandex fabric, wrapped around the body in varying lengths and designed to be hitched up around the hips to the length required by the wearer. According to the fast-talking Donna Karan, you can "Pull it on. Pull it up. Or pull it down." And while "the body" came in black and grey, the Nineties tube concept comes in navy, silver, khaki and citrus orange. The Tube is meant to be a second skin, as streamlined as the shape of your body will allow. According to the designer (herself no size 8), the tube can be worn by women of all shapes and sizes - one size fits all. To prove the point, the DKNY advertising campaign features two skinny waif models in the same tube skirt, with room between them to breathe. Whether one normal-shaped woman would be able to wear The Tube with as much success remains to be seen. If you don't want to risk pounds 175, wait for the M&S version. It's such a simple idea that it's begging to be imitated.

! Thetubesystem is available from DKNY, 27 Old Bond Street, London W1; Harrods, Knightsbridge, SW1 and Selfridges, Oxford Street, W1

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