Remember that line from “Field of Dreams” that went: “If you build it, they will come?” Well, judging by the crowd at Norman Norell New York’s Thursday night show, that’s what happened. It was a 10-exit collection...
Remember that line from “Field of Dreams” that went: “If you build it, they will come?” Well, judging by the crowd at Norman Norell New York’s Thursday night show, that’s what happened. It was a 10-exit collection from designer Patrick Michael Hughes and John B. Gomes, president of the company, and the Norell name acted like a magnet, attracting some of the faithful and many of the hopeful.
Bobby Short, a friend of Hughes, for example, brought along pals Casey Ribicoff and designer Adolfo. Ribicoff, a former client of the original Norell, said she liked an all-gray coat, turtleneck and slim skirt combo, adding, “I knew Mr. Norell and the brilliance of his work. I was married in a beautiful linen dress of his.”
Sidney Bennett, whose mother, Lillie Rubin, carried Norell’s clothes in her 57th Street store 40 years ago, recalled the designer’s master tailoring and extraordinary fabrics. Bennett feels that reviving the name was a “stroke of genius.” Joan Kaner, vice president and fashion director for Neiman Marcus, was also drawn by the moniker. Kaner found the clothes “pretty and ladylike,” and thought that the strength was in the evening looks.
Wrapping a collection around such a revered name, however, sets the bar sky-high. Hughes and Gomes are to be congratulated for their courage and for some very pretty, adult clothes.
The best in show were two elegant coats, one in gray cashmere, the other, a black cashmere over a perfect little black dress. Evening, though, was too sassy, with a see-through lace column and an ill-fitting navy slipdress. The mermaid dresses and the prominence of the belt gave nods to Norell, but vague ones. The gowns simply didn’t have the fabulous slinky fit the designer was known for. Some other looks — such as the jumper and blouse — suggested Claire McCardell instead.
But Hughes shows promise. He has just put himself in a rather difficult spot. Referencing Norell is not enough; channeling him is too tough, and it will take time to find out what Hughes himself has to offer as a designer.
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