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Feminine Instincts – Tracy Reese, Stephen Burrows, Lacoste, Sari Gueron, Rodarte

Whether flirty, playful or sophisticated, spring looks have gone ultra pretty. That translates into lots of frills, lace and charming little numbers.

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Tracy Reese

John Aquino, Talaya Centeno, George Chinsee, Gianni Giannoni, David Turner and Thomas Iannaccone

Whether flirty, playful or sophisticated, spring looks have gone ultra pretty. That translates into lots of frills, lace and charming little numbers.

Tracy Reese: As ever, Tracy Reese designs for the girl with the most party invites and the fullest dance card. And come spring, she’ll make her grand entrance in Southern eyelash-batting, tea-sipping, parasol-twirling style. Reese’s collection was a lacy affair to be sure, with plenty of frills, overlays and underskirts in a parade of lime green, pink, blue and cream slipdresses and gowns. All the lace was relieved by a few brocade vests and jackets, as well as a sprinkling of floral-printed silk frocks — the prettiest a swingy brown-on-tan look. Reese also introduced a new idea in a few military jackets, but these read a bit random — unless, that is, some gallant Army cadet lent this sweet debutante his jacket on a chilly night.

Stephen Burrows: Why should Stephen Burrows fiddle with the very thing that’s charmed his girls for decades? Because, as this collection made clear, he wants to add a whole new audience. While managing to retain the spirit of his label — the lettuce edging, color-blocking and contrast stitching — the designer moved in new directions with sexier shapes and paler colors. There were black-and-white printed shirtdresses, for example, and pretty little wraps, slips and sundresses — all fitted close to the torso — in mint, yellow and white. From all indications, Burrows is on track to gather those younger fans — a possibility mirrored by the sight of former top model Pat Cleveland sitting in the front row, proudly filming her daughter, Anna, as she camped it up on the runway just like Mom used to.

Lacoste: The classic alligator is getting more fun and fabulous every season. Certainly, these days, the label represents more about fashion than sports, with looks that are far more suited to playing — and sometimes flirting — than competing. On the girly side, there were charming, fun dresses, strapless jersey frocks and low-slung minis. But creative director Christophe Lemaire mixed in skater and tennis references as well, putting it all together with amusing kneesocks, helmet caps and knee pads for a look he called “preppy pop.” And in a nod to another master of the prep genre, Ralph Lauren — who recently enlarged his polo player — Lemaire magnified the alligator to huge proportions and plastered it on an oh-so-cozy robe.

This story first appeared in the September 12, 2005 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Sari Gueron: In an increasingly crowded scene of young New York designers, finding your voice isn’t an easy task. But Sari Gueron seems to have honed in on hers: pretty, feminine dresses with subtle, but beautifully rendered details. It’s the perfect gear for the coolest girl in the room — the one who doesn’t need to hit you over the head with a flashy ensemble.

Gueron’s spring lineup veered away from her usual silk-heavy evening look. Instead, she worked in a subdued palette of cottons — the wonderfully chic combination of black and navy — as well an alluring range of neutrals — dove grey, a smoky rose and a pristine eggshell. And what would said cool girl be wearing to, say, an early summer gala? Easy, a slim black cotton gown with a delightful sprinkle of navy polkadots. It’s a look that’s less Jessica Simpson and more Sofia Coppola, who incidentally was sitting front row — and one that for all of its simplicity, is often difficult to pull off. Kudos to Gueron.

Rodarte: By their own admission, sisters Laura and Kate Mulleavy have OCD. And it certainly served them well with their sophomore Rodarte effort, a presentation of just 16 looks, tight enough to allow the designers to obsess over the tiniest details, such as covering any snap closures — hidden inside the dresses — with chiffon and hand-sewing the folds on pleated looks, such as a dress that had pleats all around.

Before the show, Laura said they envisioned “a woman standing in a rock garden full of Brancusi sculptures.” If the StyleLounge show locale in Times Square didn’t exactly fit the Mulleavys’ intended picture, the elegant, polished clothes did. They manipulated fabric by weaving, pleating and twisting it into flowy gowns and cocktail dresses. Often, they pulled out the pinking shears to finish hems and fly-away bits of chiffon, and worked the zigzag effect most beautifully on myriad dove gray silk strips they wove into a one-shouldered number. But as intricate as everything was, it all had a pretty swing to it. Here’s hoping the Mulleavys will have something entirely new to obsess over soon — filling a stream of orders.

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