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RETRO-SPECTIVE: HOUSEWIFE FASHION
1972 - Return To 'Sane Dressing' Suits Designer Anne Klein
NEW YORK - Designer Anne Klein, a keep-fit nut, recently spent two weeks at that posh $150- a-day San Diego spa, La Costa. Was she surprised to watch affluent dinner goers head for the dining room wearing simple shirt-skirt getups rather than show-off clothes.
It was the first clue that flamboyant theatrical clothes - all by-products of the hippie influence - were dead duds. What's more, spa seekers were a dramatic cross between secure socially registered types from everywhere and gorgeous starlets bent on crashing Hollywood by keeping physically fit.
Anne, who has had her business only four years but sells to 1,500 stores coast to coast, soon became convinced that: "There's a great return to sane dressing. It's a reversal and reaction against the total disregard for attractiveness that we saw in the 60s. All the junk is gone!"
The impression that the 70s would be fashion's classic decade was given further impetus when gypsy-prone Ali McGraw came into the Klein showroom and ordered: One turtleneck with knickers. Two tweed wrap skirts and pullover. One evening shirtwaist.
Ali, an ex-fashion coordinator, was heaving sighs of superlative relief about the fashion simplicities. Divine! Marvelous! Super!
Anne, an inveterate traveler, then went off to Acapulco. She was invited to a party at the Gloria Guinness estate near Las Spricas. Anne, who is Mrs. Chip Rubinstein in private life, was introduced to her hostess by her married name. When the subject inevitably turned to fashion, Gloria announced this season she had by-passed the Paris couture to invest in pared down separates by someone called Anne Klein. "Gloria nearly keeled over when she found out that she was talking to Anne Klein," says Anne Klein.
As soon as Anne got back to the job, Cyd Charisse breezed into the showroom to order a new separates wardrobe for: herself and best pal, Dinah Shore. Cyd sputtered that all the mature elegantes in her circle including Dinah were bored silly with fashion's penchant for costumes.
"The series of reactions turned out to be a fascinating barometer," says Anne. "When my husband and I put the pieces together, the tendency toward sane fashion was an across-the-board trend. It was a desire of the young and old. Rich and not-so-rich. The famous and ordinary."
Brooklyn-born Anne, who used to design for Jr. Sophisticates and then quit because she was "fed up" with fashion, got back into the business when her husband decided to quit manufacturing shopping bags to promote Klein-designed clothes. It was both real and psychic support. Three months as a homebody turned out to be solitary confinement.
At first Anne and Chip tried to expand the concept of "fashion" from clothes to everything that projected style. Anne talked with airline executives to create fashionable plane interiors. No soap. Chip talked to auto makers in Detroit with similar ideas. It was thanks but no thanks. Anne approached kitchen appliance giants who listened intently and announced that she was ahead of her time - but please come back in a few years.
"What I really wanted was to redesign the world," says Anne, a pint-sized lady who. has more self confidence and experience "than formal training. She didn't go past Brooklyn Girls Commercial High School. But at 16 she was a $28-a-week sketcher for Seventh Ave. fashion houses and absorbing the scene, learning, dreaming.
She's still got the same kind of open mind. And, while stores were flooding her company with mammoth orders, she decided to change fashion within its own sphere — and down with limitations.
"Women in a hurry don't want to waste time changing clothes," says Anne. Which is, of course, the secret to Anne Klein's success. All her clothes are sleek, unfussy items that make transitions with the addition of accessories.
Anne talks about 1972 being the year of clean dressing — meaning that unnecessary frou-frou and details have been erased from clothes.
"The world is complicated enough," says Anne. "There's war, polluted air, campus unrest, prison violence. Today there's a new regard for simple dressing that is reactionary. It's a personal projection of life style free from fuss."
Source: Lebanon Daily News, January 27, 1972 - Lebanon Pennsylvania via NewspaperArchive.com
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