Clotheslines by Marylou Luther


     Q: Dear Marylou:  With the global zeitgeist wreaking negativity, and many designers showing spooky clothes, is there one designer you could cite as the most positive? __ H.H.,Ashland, OH.

CONI CLOUD gown illustration       


       Dear H.H.:  Yes.  She’s Eshing Zhang and the name of her design company, CONI CLOUD, is the first clue to her sky highs.  After apprenticeships with Vera WangAngel Sanchez, Zac Posen, Derek Lam and Helmut Lang,  and winning the Swarovski award and sponsorship, Zhang opened her own design house in 2017, specializing in custom-made bridal.  Here’s her take on positivity:
   “I love the personal nature of bridal design because I get to know my clients’ stories and bring their wedding vision to reality and stitch together their happily-ever-after. My hand-made dresses and gowns are inspired by each client’s individuality and my desire to remind them of the important and good memories in their lives.”
   A graduate of Parsons School of Design, Zhang says her company’s name reflects her mission to offer beautiful styles that are as varied, soft and light as a cloud.  The dress in her illustration is created by draping organza, gazar and horsehair in different shades to create layers. It is available via customized order either through her website or email to The P
rice: $1,800.   

              illustration by Eshing Zhang              



           Q: Dear Marylou:  Now that Madonna is rumored to be going back on tour, what fashion influence do you believe she will have this go-round? __ D.L., New York, NY.

                  Dear D.L.:   I would bet either on her continuation of her latest jewelry-strewn black lace top with matching shorts and stockings or  on her horse-driven looks from her “Like a Prayer” years.    The most amazing Jean Paul Gaultier designs for Madonna’s “Confessions” are the saddle-like bustier and a belt sprouting a horsey tail, but the looks with commercial horsepower will probably be her jodhpurs and riding habits.  And while the three-piece “Saturday Night Fever” suit with flare legs has nothing to do with Gaultier’s equestrienne tack, I can see this look dancing up a storm as well.


      Q:  Dear Marylou:  Which fabric is sexier, crepe de chine or silk jersey?  I’m about to sew a sheath dress and want to use the sexiest fabric. __ M.T.B., Fayetteville, NC.

                   Dear M.T.B.:  Silk jersey is sexier because it’s clingier than crepe de chine.  But if you want the fabric with the highest testosterone levels, choose satin—especially stretch satin.  It is no accident that the two sexiest dresses in Hollywood lore are both made of sensuous, temptuous satin.  They are Jean Harlow’s slinky, curve-clutching, bias-cut gown by Adrian for the l935 movie, “Reckless” and Rita Hayworth’s strapless wonder by Jean Louis for “Gilda”. Both have been copied ad infinitum.  My definition of satin also includes Duchesse satin and charmeuse.


      Q:  Dear Marylou:  How can I get water spots off of my best velvet dress? __ P.J.M., Newark, NJ.

                  Dear P.J.M.:   You can’t.  That’s the word from fabric expert John Sullivan, who says that once velvet becomes matted, the pile can never successfully be brushed up again.  If your spots are minimal, Sullivan advises taking your dress to a drycleaner and hoping for the best.  If your dress is spotted all over and/or the drycleaner can’t help, this expert suggests another method for saving it.  “Immerse the dress in cold water,” he instructs, “and let it drip dry, hanging from a hanger that has been covered with a towel.  When it’s dry, take to the drycleaner for pressing. This process will change the character of the fabric, and the resultant dress will look more like crushed velvet than velvet, and it will be spotless.”
  If this procedure sounds too chancy, you could cover the spots with clusters of jewels such as rhinestones, sequins, crystals or pearls.           


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


©2019 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.