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Derek Lam: With his recent appointment as creative director of Tod’s, all eyes are on Derek Lam. Now more than ever, he needs to find a strong identity for his own collection. But Tuesday’s showing proved that this is still a work in progress, as Lam freely referenced tough-girl chic from other designers, perhaps too literally. Lam’s genius is in American sportswear with a pretty, playful polish, one that’s earned him recognition thus far, but an about-face standpoint only mixes up his message. Lam did deliver on a few looks, though, like a terrific tailored plaid jacket with navy sleeves. But working with a Frank Gehry-inspired architectural motif, he added too many tricky details — wayward stitching and trailing zippers — that distracted. If Lam wants to lead his girl toward edgier territory, he needs to find his own voice with which to do it.|

Ellen Tracy: Ellen Tracy’s runway was as clean and classic as it gets: True blue, American sportswear — from black trousers to alpaca toppers shown in brown and ivory — that took a fresh, younger turn for evening. It was nada in terms of innovation, but that’s not what this label is about. After all, these are clothes with staying, and, perhaps more importantly, selling power, which explains all the love from those retail heavyweights in the front row.

MaxAzria: The MaxAzria woman’s “vision comes alive as textures and patterns collide.” So said Azria’s show notes, and there was certainly no shortage of ideas in his collection. While it was more polished and runway-ready than last season’s, the overall effect was a hodgepodge of looks that needed serious editing: less layering, fewer overwrought details. However, one might find a theme here via the charming schoolgirl touches — pleats, plaids and tweeds — and especially fun were the oversized cardigans. If that mood does not appeal to Azria’s socialite followers, they will get their due from his gala-ready evening dresses.

Generra: While reminiscent of the ubersuccessful collections of her previous employer Marc Jacobs, Pina Ferlisi’s second outing for Generra proved a winner. A former accessories designer, Ferlisi created a covetable collection of effortlessly cool layering pieces: soft washed silk tunics, cableknit cardigans and slouchy trousers in monochromatic combinations, which, chances are, will land on the “It” lists of retailers and style mavens alike.

This story first appeared in the February 7, 2007 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

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