Copyright 2002 www.reuters.com

[ January 15th 2002 ]

When times are dark the world wears white - and somehow the old is made new again. Judging from the latest fashion shows, the bright white suit may emerge to be the hottest fashion statement for men and women this spring, experts said.

The new look may also serve as a boost to the collective dark mood following the hijack attacks on U.S. landmarks on September 11 and the subsequent war in Afghanistan. The current crop of white suits provides a more comfy silhouette, a no-brainer choice for evening wear and an irreverent, happy twist on the lean, dark suits of the recent past, trend-watchers said.

Designers like Hugo Boss, Chloe, Dolce and Gabbana, Calvin Klein, Gucci, Viktor and Rolf and Giorgio Armani all show white suits in their 2002 spring collections. Showbusiness personalities such as "Girl, Interrupted" star Angelina Jolie, rapper impresario Sean "Puffy" Combs, pop diva Christina Aguilera and actress Leelee Sobieski have all recently been photographed in white suits.

Historians say that white outfits have sometimes emerged following times of darkness. At the turn of the last century American novelist Mark Twain caused a furor not only for his racially charged novel "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," but also for donning a white suit in the middle of a dark, depressing winter, according to a new PBS documentary airing Monday and Tuesday.

"Mark Twain," a documentary directed by Ken Burns reveals that in the early 1900s, Twain, reeling from crushing debt and the death of his wife and children, took to parading around Manhattan in scarlet socks and a snow-white flannel suit.

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