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Calling big-screen beauties. From the girl-gone-bad look of Winona Ryder in “Heathers” to the classic elegance of Audrey Hepburn in “Sabrina,” spring had plenty of high chic and swinging style.
Marc Jacobs: Fashion should try a little harder. Marc Jacobs advanced that platform the day before his show. He put the thought into practice with a presentation that featured a marching band, a timely start and a slew of bona fide celebrities. (When was the last time you saw Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg at a fashion show, or, for that matter, the cutest little future jailbird on the planet?) It also featured genuinely provocative fashion.
Those of us who think about such things considered what encore Jacobs could possibly produce as a follow-up to fall’s watershed event. He came up with a powerful cocktail of stimuli, one that resonated with the seldom-articulated sense of wonder so essential to the fashion system, as well as with the more concrete, pragmatic concerns of doing business. This was a case study, masterfully executed, in how fashion should move at a sea-change moment, last season’s shocker becoming not necessarily this season’s proletarian cup of tea, but a genuine possibility for uberfashion types.
So how did Jacobs try harder? Clothes aside, the shift to 8 p.m. from 9 and the 8:30-ish start were not happenstance, but a decision made in response to years of criticism — a smart, if overdue, move, especially with the traditional show audience feeling increasingly put out by the encroachment of celebrity press. But fashion doesn’t happen on the merits of good manners. Jacobs said he’s sick of the beachification of city style, that real fashion demands “a little more work.” He also noted that he set out to make this collection utterly American — hence the Penn State Nittany Lions marching band — yet with a couture sensibility to the cut and details.
If that sounds like an homage to the latter-day Babe Paley set — absolutely not, or at least not obviously so; Jacobs’ Americana always boasts a bit of the bad girl. Here, he gave fall’s Violet Parr of “The Incredibles” a school uniform, a spot on the cheerleading squad and something every teen needs now and then — structure. All of which made for an entertaining way to push fall’s major points — pretty sobriety and volume — more into the mainstream. This time out, some shapes, mostly pants, expanded, while others were trimmed a bit. And throughout, he stripped away girliness wherever possible (“I wanted to avoid frills, bows and disgustingly sweet things — the things I used to love”). Thus, fall’s tulle dirndls stiffened into A-line skirts over knife-pleated petticoats, huge smocks deflated into tentish coats and lace-veiled cardigans defrocked into cashmere sweatshirts.
This story first appeared in the September 14, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
But that no-frills statute did not extend into evening, when a bevy of tiered, beribboned gems indicated the designer’s acknowledgement, finally, that it would be nice to have some of those celebrity clients chirping his name on the red carpet.
Throughout, Jacobs cribbed from girls-gone-wrong chick-flicks “Carrie,” “Heathers” (“I love Winona”) and “The Virgin Suicides” (“that’s my girl, Sofia”). But for all his presentation bravado, part of his talent lies in a sly versatility. With a little change of shoe and attitude, Jacobs’ clothes can transfer seamlessly from a girl with an attitude to a woman of high chic.
On Tuesday, at Marc by Marc Jacobs, the designer showed a collection that had bits and pieces of Olivia Newton-John, Norma Kamali and “The Night Porter,” as well as piles of those terrific, do-it-your-way clothes that both girls and boys love.
Bill Blass: Every season, designer Michael Vollbracht wrestles with trying to fit his vision into the Bill Blass legacy. And the effort always shows. But for spring, he finally injected a bit of Vollbracht into the mix, exercising his love of classic film gamines through silhouettes from bygone days — think Bardot, Deneuve and Fonda romping around the South of France in the Sixties. That meant embroidered sundresses with rounded skirts, structured swing coats à la “Umbrellas of Cherbourg” and a winning combo of a pink gingham shirt, a petal embroidered skirt and a checked wool Eisenhower jacket. Vollbracht lightened his touch, too, with a swingy chiffon blouse and skirt in multicolored stripes and simple shirtdresses. Even the evening looks, which normally get lost in kitsch and camp, this season swirled in layers of embellished chiffon and muted colors. The designer seems to be moving in the right direction — perhaps the next step is recognizing that there’s life beyond Old Hollywood.
Monique Lhuillier: Monique Lhuillier did volume and swing her way. And she did it best with lots of Sabrina-style ballerina dresses in white, smoky-toned pastels or ombréd tulle, sometimes delicately sequined. Lhuillier is now firmly ensconced in creating romantic evening looks, a logical direction she took after years of designing bridal collections. And whether she swung her latest silhouettes away from the body or kept them close, they all had the designer’s signature grace. She stayed on the lean side with a jade Chantilly lace sleeveless sheath; went more fluid with a lavender chiffon starburst-seamed gown, and, in between, showed a beauty in black chiffon: the crystal-belted, drop-waist slip with a sheer overlay and flowing ties. Still, for all the lovely gowns, the short looks were the freshest, such as the lean halter tuxedo dress that opened the show and a little back-buttoned tuxedo shell in white eyelet tucked into a black embroidered tulle and chiffon flared skirt.