Degen Pener
February 23, 1996 AT 05:00 AM EST

Hold the hard-edged eyeliner. Pack away the shocking satin. The in-your-face look that designers peddled last year is as passe as bell-bottoms. This season, fashion is mellowing out, going with softer fabrics and colors usually seen in boxes of Froot Loops. Off the runway, models and actors continue to mess with each other’s businesses — even Brad Pitt has stuck his neck out and inspired a trend. Among the ways fashion will be on your back this spring:

Even the most visionary designers sometimes behave like lemmings, which would explain the explosion of citrus this season. Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Jill Stuart, and Todd Oldham are all offering up styles in shades of orange, lemon, and lime. Meanwhile, at Ralph Lauren and Richard Tyler, it’s not color but the fabric shantung, a nubby kind of silk, that’s catching on. ”It’s the follow-up to satin,” says Cloutier Agency stylist Phillip Bloch, who is zipping actresses like Fran Drescher and Samantha Mathis into the stuff. Lastly, make way for a stampede of zebra. The designers known for dressing rock stars — Gianni Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Anna Sui, and Tom Ford at Gucci — are all going wild for white-and-black and even neon-pink-and-black stripes. Sui, who remembers first wearing zebra in the early ’80s, sums it up this way: ”Then it was a new-wave trend… now animal prints have become the new staple.” What will PETA think?

Juliette Lewis hides under a Streisand-style wig in the new television commercials for GUESS? Rock hair god Jon Bon Jovi steps out from behind his locks in ads for Versace. And Beautiful Girls costar Natalie Portman, 14, is the central figure in the ad campaign for ISAAC, a new line of lower-priced clothes from Isaac Mizrahi that most teens her age probably still can’t afford. The designer says he chose an actress rather than a model because ”an actress can portray emotions in a campaign that looks almost like outtakes from a film set.” In other words, ”Mr. De Mille, I’m ready for my Gap ad.”

Adding extra muscle to the word boss is the new book Male Supermodels: The Men of Boss Models (Distributed Art Publishers, $29.95), which pets and praises the agency’s top hunks. Among the revelations: Onetime Calvin Klein jeans model Marcus Schenkenberg talks about his recent initiation into the mile-high club, and current Calvin underwear exhibitionist Joel West discusses being discovered at the Mall of America’s Dairy Queen. Born in the USA, indeed.

Chanel will debut its new scent, Allure — not to be confused with the magazine. Elizabeth Taylor’s newest perfume, Black Pearls, spritzes into stores with an estimated $14 million ad campaign that’s not to be confused with last year’s stillborn launch. And Lancome unfurls spots for its latest, Poeme, featuring French actress Juliette Binoche, not to be confused with departing corporate face Isabella Rossellini.

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