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Painted ladies; Yipes! Stripes!

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Painted Ladies
Models are losing some serious ground. No matter how tall, how hipless, how Brazilian, they just can't compete with the cartoon gals. Call it the return of Miss Boo, the triumph of Lara Croft, whatever. Whimsical watercolor ladies are all over town. On Ravinstyle.com, a new Website, shoppers navigate with one of three cartoon-girl guides, depending on the style mood. "We didn't want to say, 'Oh, well, that's what it looks like on a model,' " explains founder Jill Licata. And there's Bliss Girl, star of the monthly Bliss Spa catalogue, and T Company T-shirts, where the lissome ladies do things like yoga, where they clearly have an unfair advantage. Even the windows of Bergdorf Goodman are decorated with women on canvas. Expect, for the first time, models to be referred to as "real women."

Yipes! Stripes
The mothers of the world are shaking their finger at fashion's collective unconscious. The horizontal stripe -- that perennial don't -- has once again raised its unflattering head. A seemingly unprecedented number of spring collections have resurrected the Parisian/jailbird coat of armor. (Do not, under any circumstances, consider this an opportunity to add stars and showcase your patriotism.) Those guilty as charged: Giorgio Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Bottega Veneta, Prada, Tommy Hilfiger, Marc Jacobs, Louis Vuitton, Ralph Lauren, Clements Ribeiro -- to name just . . . nine! Unless you're Jean Paul Gaultier, a gondolier, or riding your wicker-basketed bicycle through the French countryside -- listen to your mother. They make you look fat.
MIA HARLOCK

White Lines
There are certain things that make some trousers less cool than other trousers. Pleats, for example. And, we used to think, razor-sharp creases running down the front of your leg. But the latter are reappearing in places other than boardrooms and on the military duds that they've always seemed so intended for. Now, creases are casual and (dare we say it?) hip! On Marc Jacobs's runway, deliberate folds are worked down the length of the slimmest faded jeans ($138 at Marc Jacobs, 163 Mercer St., 212-343-1490). At Intermix, private-label jeans are a hot floor-dragging length, all sorts of colors -- rust, white, denim, black -- and creased ($135 at 125 Fifth Ave., 212-533-9720, and 1003 Madison Ave., 212-249-7858). Plan on spending a little extra on dry cleaning.

Smart Set
Michel Perry

Only a Frenchman could say bourgeoisrockandroll as an adjective and not sound ridiculous. (It's all about those r's.) Michel Perry, French shoe man, has arrived in New York to open his first American freestanding boutique at 320 Park Avenue. The bourgeoisrockandroll woman now has another stop on her Manolo-Christian-Sergio circuit. Michel Perry shoes are most emphatically not for the "I'll just walk!" set. They are incredibly feminine: pointed toes, skinny heels, rich colors. Not to mention plenty of that most heavily fetishized of cleavages: toe cleavage. While small selections of Perry shoes have been available for years in department stores like Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue, New Yorkers have never before inhaled an entire Perry collection -- which ranges from Belle du Jour modest to Pat Benatar sharp. The boutique promises to be an experience: deep-pink walls, eighteenth-century moldings made modern. What else would you expect, after all, from a designer who happily declares, "I've sold my soul to the service of the woman!"? How French!


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