A Sense of Drama – Vivienne Tam, Alice Roi, Carlos Miele, Milly by Michelle Smith, Marc Bouwer
Think Old Hollywood. Katharine Hepburn, Greta Garbo and Veronica Lake are some of the silver-screen goddesses designers are channeling for fall. Meanwhile, grown-up schoolgirl looks have a strong presence of their own.
Vivienne Tam: Gung Hay Fat Choy! Vivienne Tam’s show began promisingly enough. The day was certainly auspicious — Chinese New Year, which the designer celebrated by leaving red lai-see envelopes, containing one greenback, on everyone’s seat — and the premise was plenty inviting: a night at the opera with Greta Garbo. Of course, Tam being Tam, the drama in question was the Beijing opera, and she kept the references to prints and silhouettes, which was a good thing, since her collections often fall short when she’s too mired in her own sinophilia. This time, the two (Chinese opera and Garbo) were a match made in tien as Tam showed a masked print here, a Chinese beaded and embroidered accent there, and did Garbo to the hilt with everything else in the lineup. There were Forties skirts and chiffon tie blouses, high-waist trousers in plaid as well as velvet dresses and fitted jackets. Tam, however, steered off course during the second half, with the sheath dresses, taffeta getups and a pleated metallic magenta skirt that were all pretty enough on their own, but downright foreign to the overall tone of the collection.
Alice Roi: Alice Roi is steadily gaining momentum. For fall, Roi went with sleeker, more refined versions of her often kooky fashions of past seasons. Perhaps it is an aftereffect of her recent engagement or simply a function of experience. The designer displayed grown-up schoolgirl charm in the form of sweet velvet ruffled dresses and velvet eyelet tunics as well as wool pinafore dresses over smartly tailored shirts. Thick woolen sweaters were belted over leggings and miniskirts in subtle navy and bright orange and mustard yellows. Though she proved her talents in her blouses and dresses, her sampling of pants, such as the flared, tight “dandy pants,” and her low-slung satin track pants, were a tough sell. This season marked Roi’s first foray into a licensing deal with Tendler Furs, and the result was fur-trimmed belted blazers, a woven mink preppy-ish sweater and a smattering of fur accessories.
Carlos Miele: It’s obvious from his work that Carlos Miele loves women. Often, however, his fall collection seemed to be populated with dresses that tried too hard to make his beloved sexy customer the belle of the ball. Remember when your mother told you to look in the mirror and take off one thing before you left the house? Well, it’s sound advice, and Miele’s fall collection was at its best when the designer reined himself in just a touch. One such look — a low-neck, multicolored chiffon dress — was by no means simple, but was thankfully free of a fluttering fishtail hem, superfluous pleating or a heavy macramé trim that burdened some of his other pieces. The designer’s expansion to separates was a plus, with elegant pairings of navy cashmere dotted knits and chiffon skirts, both short and long. And though the designer is attempting to bring about social change by employing local Brazilian craftsmen to do handwork on his gowns, the pleated appliqué and macramé only weighed his work down.
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