PatchworkMarylou Luther is currently Fashion Editor for Clotheslines, a weekly column on fashion.

Patchwork, intarsia and inlaid fabrics are big news for all. What’s the difference between patchwork and intarsia? Between inlaid fabrics and collage?

In the fashion context, they all mean the same. They refer to pieces of unrelated fabrics and patterns that have been joined to create a whole new look from fragmented parts. Intarsia, an Italian word, originated in Italy during the Renaissance, and in its early usage it referred primarily to wood inlays used to create mosaic patterns. Collage originated in the art world as a technique for composing a work of art by joining materials not normally associated with each other, as in newspaper clippings, photographs, theater tickets, etc. Collage as a fashion work of art originated in the U.S. with Dutch-born Koos Van Den Akker, who practices it to this day, and whose work has inspired designers both here and abroad.

The coat illustrated here is called a patchwork sampler by its designer, Marilyn Brooks. The 72 percent wool / 28 percent silk fabrics were created by Brooks in Austria by Jill Silk. The bias-cut coat ($235) is from a patchwork group that also includes a bustier ($125), blazer ($230), 36-inch skirt ($180) and shirt ($175).($175).