NEW YORK — Don’t overreach. That seemed to be the mantra this week, as the more successful collections stayed focused — and pretty — while those that didn’t work were overwrought and overthought.

Carlos Miele, for example, didn’t reinvent the wheel with his lovely printed and hand-painted silk chiffon and satin evening dresses that were sexy and snug. Some of the standout looks included the golden lace patchwork top with floaty sleeves. Rachel Comey also stripped away the fuss for spring, and sent out a pure, crisp lineup of summery cotton frocks with a sporty bent. There were even gymnastics chalk marks on the models’ arms and legs. She rarely strayed from her bright white palette with splashes of gray prints. Everything, certainly, was pretty and wearable — especially the mesh and cutout bodysuits — but it wasn’t Comey’s most interesting effort.

While Patrik Rzepski may have a penchant to provoke — he showed on Sept. 11, and presented a collection inspired by the Baader-Meinhof gang, a Seventies German terrorist group — his spring line was rather retail-friendly. He sent out African batik-print jumpsuits, full skirts and sashes, along with breezy cotton dresses and jersey jumpers. Brazilian designer Geová Rodriguez, for his part, opened his Geová show with a moment of silence to commemorate September 11th. But after that, the mood quickly changed as he sent out lively dresses, such as a burnt gold-copper number and the beautiful frocks in black and white prints. It’s too bad that the over-accessorizing with fake flowers and huge hats stole the attention away from what we actually came to see — the clothes.

Newcomer Cat Swanson showed promise with her sleek bolero jackets and fun party frocks made from a patchwork of rainbow-bright chiffons, but her overuse of color sometimes created dizzying looks that were better suited to a Brazilian Carneval. At the other end of the spectrum, the slow and broody soundtrack at Donald Deal set an almost somber mood for his show as the models walked at an adagio pace and looked as sad as can be. This staging certainly didn’t help Deal’s evening gowns, which were average fare. One noteworthy dress, though, was the sunflower-dotted chiffon draped halter gown. David Rodriguez also faltered a bit for spring with his Italy-inspired collection that lacked the sophistication of his muse, Sophia Loren. The evening coats had unflattering silhouettes, and some of the day looks were compromised by such details as a tacky black organza bow fastened from the back of the shoulders that billowed like a short train. There were pretty suits in tweed and leather, however.

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