September 09, 1996 12:00 PM

CHECK, PLEASE

“It has a homey ‘Mom made my clothes’ look,” says designer Betsey Johnson of checked gingham, that cheerful, young-at-heart fabric that has celebs—including Liv Tyler, MTV veejay Kennedy and Christie Brinkley—suddenly looking like extras from L’il Abner. Perfect for a Sunday picnic or that helicopter ride to the Hamptons, the hip squares, explains designer Mark Wong Nark of the Tom Mark boutique in Los Angeles, are a stylish way to go low-glam. “It’s perfect for confident women who don’t have to advertise their sexuality,” says Nark, whose clients include Courteney Cox Arquette and Drew Barrymore. “It’s not loud fashion.” Adds Karin Labby, L.A.-based fashion stylist to Gwyneth Paltrow, Ellen DeGeneres and Elisabeth Shue: “It’s a subtle come-on—a mixture of innocence and va-voom.”

Last seen in Hollywood on the likes of Doris Day and on Judy Garland in the Wizard of Oz, the two-toned pattern has returned, in part as a reaction to mod’s masculine styles. “It’s no-fuss fashion,” says Annie Segal, owner of Santa Monica’s Fred Segal Originals boutique. “Gingham instantly looks crisp and pulled together.” Best of all, it’s hassle-free. “It reads total comfort,” says L.A. fashion stylist Annie Spong. “What else would you expect from a fabric used for curtains?”

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