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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Made to Wear Once in 1,000 Years

NEW YORK -- Are you tired of hearing about the millennium yet?

It seems the world can be divided into three groups of people this year: those who don't want to hear the word millennium one more time, those who are feverishly planning how to celebrate it and those who anticipate making lots of money from those doing the celebrating.

Among the people who see dollar signs dancing in their dreams are retailers who expect to sell scads of party clothes because, the thinking goes, anyone going to a "Happy New Year 2000'' party will want to wear something special. There may be shortages of champagne, caviar or hotel rooms, but there is no danger that there will be a dearth of party clothes.

Stores are asking designers for evening dresses, and designers are whipping them up. The resort-holiday collections being shown this month for delivery in October, November and December are geared as much to holiday finery as to beach wear.

The problem is that most of the styles, rather than pointing the way to a new century, could have been shown almost any year. For many designers, inspiration came not from the future, but from the past.

"It's sort of holiday north, holiday south,'' said Donna Karan, who is calling her new collection Celebration 2000. It ranges from a gauzy silver-shot full silk skirt in pale yellow, coral or white (updated with a tube top) to a short black strapless dress glittering with beads that would suit a modern-day flapper.

As a nod to today, she based many styles on jersey tubes or T-shirts, then layered tulle sprinkled with beads over them for resort outings or added beaded fringe for dancing the centuries away. And how about a crystal-beaded apron to tie on over just about anything instead of wearing jewelry? It might be just the thing for someone fearful of traveling with the real stuff.

Michael Kors has given a lot of thought to this holiday season, which he expects to start as early as October. "Our customers are talking about it already,'' he said. "I think even people who never, never want to go out New Year's Eve will want to go out. I'm doing a lot of take-away clothes, but dressy for evening.

"Even in the most casual resorts, this year they'll dress. And people will be going to cities as well as to resorts. You're going to have people coming to New York and people going to Sydney, Australia, to London, to Paris, to Hong Kong.''

His signature collection has youthful styles like packable strapless dresses of paper taffeta with smocked tops. He's done them short, in celadon, and long in black.

"You don't want to wear something uptight and old-fashioned,'' Kors said, "and this year you don't want something that doesn't pack.''

Calvin Klein used fabrics like washed satin, ribbed silk or paperlike cotton and double-layered stretch organza for long, flowing skirts worn with tops that bare the arms and shoulders. Thin fabrics are layered or embroidered tone-on-tone or given a sprinkling of sequins. Colors range from white to peaches and pinks he describes as "face-powder colors, just pale washes of color.''

Ralph Lauren's collection focuses on resort wear but includes dressy clothes for parties in the city. Sexy jerseys come in black and white or shades of blue taken from the colors of the Caribbean sea and sky.

A black and white beaded georgette tube, shown with black jersey pants, defies geography, but a multicolored fringed skirt of Indian beadwork would probably look at home only in the tropics.

When it comes to color, Carolina Herrera is all for it. "I think the millennium is about color,'' she said, gesturing toward a rack glowing with orange, turquoise and red evening wear.

"There are pieces to mix, like this turquoise beaded top with an orange skirt,'' she said, "or this striped top in turquoise, white and tan to mix with anything.''

There are also long dresses with beading, either etching a discreet border around the neckline or forming an all-over floral design. And Herrera has provided two-toned bravura stoles that reverse from pashmina to taffeta to add a touch of drama to any event.