With all those '60s-inspired fashions falling in and out of favor during the past year—go-go boots, sweater sets, Sabrina shifts—you'd think designers would have run out of ideas to crib. But thanks to the return of silk shantung—that shiny, bumpy material popularized by Jackie Kennedy—retro is still the rage. "The nubby fabric attracted me. I like texture," says Martin's Tisha Campbell, no less a shantung fan than Chynna Phillips and Brandy. Actress Nancy Travis recently splurged on a chartreuse shantung jacket by Cynthia Rowley. "It's got a special shimmer," she says. "There's a certain iridescence that I love."
The nubs—called slubs—pop up when silkworms are fed a special diet of oak, cherry and uncultivated mulberry leaves. The bright colors reflect fashion's current anti-black-fabric stance. "Shantung works now when it's done in cool colors and hip shades," says Rowley. Devotee Fran Drescher, for one, doesn't leave home without her new bone-colored shantung Longchamp handbag. "I can dress it up or down," she says. "When I'm traveling, I don't want to take 57 purses with me."