Clotheslines by Marylou Luther


     Q: Dear Marylou:  I’m a design student preparing a spring 2019 capsule collection of menswear that will be judged by fashion professionals.  What jackets would you include?__ M.W., New York, NY.

Jeffrey Banks motorcycle jacket

         Dear M.W.:  I would start with the motorcycle jacket, which is having a new life beyond black leather. In his spring collection for Saint Laurent, Anthony Vaccarello showed a much touted biker with allover beading.  And Allesandro Michele of Gucci showed a purple crystal-embroidered bomber priced to sell for $5,250.  With Saint Laurent, Gucci and other major players revving up the jacket, it’s obviously on its way for a life beyond the cyclist and the street.
   If you’re a design student you probably know that the original cowhide bikers were made in America by Schott Bros. Their iconic Perfecto jacket is still perfecto. (To see the history and current availability of the leather jacket made famous by Elvis Presley and Marlon Brando, go to
   To understand the differences among motorcycle, motocross, moto, bomber and biker, I asked New York menswear designer/author/fashion historian/Coty Award-winner Jeffrey Banks to elucidate.   Banks, who appears regularly on Home Shopping News with both his apparel and Home collections, and who has written significant fashion books including his current highly-acclaimed “Norell”, describes the difference between the motorcycle jacket and the motocross is that the latter is sometimes longer.
 Bomber jackets, he says, “always have knit trim at cuffs and waistband, sometimes even at the neckline.   Their name comes from the standard issue World War II garment for American servicemen.  Bombers are sometimes called aviator or flight jackets, and can be made of fabric as well as leather.”
     Zippers are common to all these jackets, but their placements differ, says Banks.
   The latest versions include tweeds, knits, prints, stripes, checks, even satin and lace.  If you want the judges to get revved up about your jackets, I suggest you make yours memorable by including diverse colors and/or combinations that include sleeves in a different color from the body or jacket back, diverse fabrics such as chiffon or other see-throughs worn with tough black leather biker pants and diverse collages of leather and fabric.

    Q: Dear Marylou:  What happened to the expression Athleisure?  Have designers opted out of making sportswear that can be worn off the court, off the bike, out of the marathon, out of the stadium?__ R.M., Pacific Palisades, CA.

           Dear R.M.:  Athleisure has become/is becoming Athluxury.  Or, as Michael Kors noted at his cruise show for spring 2019, “Dressing down while staying chic.”
          As more and more designers elevate sportswear into the highest levels of haute, as in the latest bikers and bombers mentioned above, the price of a pair of sneakers, for example, now includes Balenciaga’s version, called the Triple S, which sells for $895. A Chanel sneaker?  $l,600 at  It should be noted here that Karl Lagerfeld started the sneaker upgrade when he showed them with evening clothes and five-figure suits in the Chanel haute couture collection of 2014.

       Q: Dear Marylou:  Fewer and fewer red carpet-ers are wearing pants.  Please comment.__ N.S., Cleveland, OH.

                    Dear N.S.:  Yes, but…
                    Pants have “always” placed second to skirts and dresses on the red carpet.  To me, they look especially fresh right now at galas, especially the ones that are embellished.  That said, I was surprised that the July issue of Harper’s Bazaar in a page devoted to “Fabulous At Every Age”, there were only three pairs of pants in the 17 outfits featured, and those three were not identified—just the tops they were worn with.  Go figure.


         Q: Dear Marylou:  I read that when the designer for Balenciaga recently showed  what he called  “T-SHIRT SHIRT” for $1,290, it caused Internet chaos.  Please explain how—or why—a design that is essentially a striped T-shirt with a long-sleeved button-down dress shirt sewn to its front could possibly merit such a pricetag.__S.B.N., Kansas City, MO.

                       Dear S.B.N.  Because its label says Balenciaga.  When sales are tallied, this may not be true, but in the meantime Balenciaga is profiting from all the Internet  brouhaha and media coverage.  It should be noted here that Fashion Week Daily posted several DIY versions that looked like memes of the “original” along with gagging outbursts from readers.

                Q: Dear Marylou:  What’s your favorite designer quote of the moment?__ E.W., Luthersville, GA.

                        Dear E.W.:  In view of his T-Shirt Shirt and the controversy it aroused, this quote from Demna Gvasalia, who designed that two-in-one for Balenciaga, strikes me as especially pertinent.  As he told Vogue’s Alexander Fury:
    “I think it’s very interesting the definition of ugly.  I think it’s also very interesting where ugly becomes beautiful or where beautiful becomes ugly.  That’s a challenge I like.  I think that’s what fashion stands for and I like that people think my clothes are ugly.  I think it’s a compliment.”
    Clotheslines readers, what do you think?


  (Marylou welcomes questions for use in this column, but regrets she cannot answer mail personally.  Send your questions to


©2018 International Fashion Syndicate 


Marylou Luther, editor of the International Fashion Syndicate, writes the award-winning Clotheslines column, a question-and-answer fashion advice feature read weekly by more than 5 million.

In addition to her syndicated newspaper column, Luther is the creative director of The Fashion Group International, a non-profit organization for the dissemination of information on fashion, beauty and related fields. Her twice-yearly audio-visual overviews of the New York, London, Milan and Paris ready-to-wear shows are must-seeing/reading for industry leaders. Her coverage of the European collections appears in newspapers throughout the U.S.

The former fashion editor of The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and Des Moines Register is biographied in “Who’s Who in America.” She won the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s coveted Eugenia Sheppard award for fashion journalism, the Women in Communications award and, in 2004, the Accessories Council’s Marylou Luther Award for Fashion Journalism, which will be given every year in her name.

Her essays have appeared in “The Rudi Gernreich Book”, “Thierry Mugler: Fashion, Fetish, Fantasy”, “The Color of Fashion”, “Todd Oldham Without Boundaries” and “Yeohlee: Work.” A book with Geoffrey Beene was published in September, 2005. A graduate of the University of Nebraska, where she received the prestigious Alumni Achievement award, Luther is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Kappa Tau Alpha, Theta Sigma Phi and Gamma Phi Beta.