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Tapestries move off the wall, into the wardrobe

TAPESTRY is no longer just for the walls or sofa. It's one of the talked-about signatures of the fashion season. Whether floral or pictorial, tapestry's jacquard weave imitates the hangings to be found in certain sections of museums, as well as on furniture in Victorian interiors where designs are less on the Gobelins order and tend to be bowers of roses or leafy scrolls.

The fabric's current vogue most likely stems from the resurgence of dandified fashions.

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Waistcoats like those of Ralph Lauren, festooned with watch fobs and worn under velvet jackets, have the look of the snappily dressed 19th-century gentleman whose lady friend was a whiz at the loom or at petit point.

Such weavers and needlepointers are in short supply nowadays, and most tapestry fashions on hand for fall are of upholstery material. But that's no reason to look down on it, since the designers have chosen the best-quality upholstery tapestry.

With its hint of romanticism, the novelty of its pattern, and its textural interest, tapestry fits in neatly this season, either as a composite in a separates outfit or as an accessory.

There are choices galore.

Among those to consider: a coat or an entire suit; a vest similar to Lauren's in a tapestry print on faille; a jacket (Lauren showed some of them, too, as did Oscar de la Renta and Adri); a wide leather-edged belt; a ribbon band on a beret; a low lace-up boot like the cream-calf-and-tapestry one by Peter Fox; or a handbag (these come in all manner of shapes, from sturdy doctor's bag to soft roomy pouch). For inside the handbag, there are tapestry wallets and purses such as those by Don Loper for Gary's Leather.

Once launched on a trend, fashionmakers are apt to run with it. So besides all of the above apparel, there are wonderful intarsia sweaters by Perry Ellis -- witty pictorial knits inlaid with various motifs from the Unicorn Tapestry, probably the most famous tapestry of all. -- Phyllis Feldkamp

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