Just when the fashion cycle seemed on the point of bidding a less-than-fond farewell to nostalgia, to ethnic looks, and all those merry peasants, influence from Hollywood in the 1950s and '60s is turning up on the streets of Paris. More than 20 years after Marilyn Monroe's death, 1983 may well become known in trendy young circles as the year of Marilyn, the eternal vamp who has managed to grab the limelight from last year's star, the Princess of Wales.
Marilyn's imitators are on the Metro, in the universities and supermarkets, sipping sodas in the drugstores. Some are very good and others less successful. Primarily it's the swinging young crowd around Saint Germain des Pres, most of whom were born after she died, that is currently attempting to reincarnate the wiggly walk, the pouty lips, the white-straw hair, and sensuous clothes that she immortalized.
In every realm of art and creation there is only one true original, notwithstanding the inevitable imitators who follow the leader. There was only one Picasso, though thousands of artists have attempted to copy his style over the years. Brigitte Bardot inspired a certain girlish vogue for checked gingham and eyelet embroidery at the peak of her career.
The current furor over Marilyn will obviously not take its place in the annals of fashion fame as a long-term trend. Most fantasies and fun ideas are short-lived and hence must be inexpensive. The big M. M. boom is in low-priced separates and accessories, which the ''want-to-be-with-it'' wearers will eventually discard after the spring and summer season in favor of some other salient breeze that suddenly reaches gale force.
Mail-order catalogs and the French equivalent of US dime stores are a primary source for T-shirts printed with Marilyn's image, new little suntops with plunging-V decollete, off-shoulder blouses with dripping chandelier earrings, and 1950-inspired sandals with towering heels and open toes. Every fan who wants to go the whole way adds a diminutive black beauty patch and thick false eyelashes to set off her platinum-blonde locks.