Designers such as Donna Karan, Tommy Hilfiger and Isabel Toledo at Anne Klein were conjuring up feminine, ladylike looks, often mixing them with the sportif.
Donna Karan: Donna Karan in Havana — sounds like a steamy trip. But these days, it seems, satiating her ever-deepening yen for urban Zen is Karan's primary inspiration, even when she's working a motif with cha-cha-cha potential. On Wednesday it made for a lovely collection, though one in which serene sometimes knocked at snooze's door.
The show was all about ladified sportif à la the cinch-waist, full-skirted dress. These came in shirt shapes and halters, both soft and crisp, but invariably neutral — beige, brown, khaki, gray. Peculiarly, Karan referred to the palette as passionate, although she was associating passion with the organic look of some of the clothes, especially those belted in a wide slice of raffia or a skirt with a deep cork border. Karan diversified the dominant silhouette by working in crocheted lace or adding embroideries or sheer horizontal strips into a skirt. And she gave a nod to sportswear with trim jackets and some appealingly demonstrative denims, including a skirt with huge side pockets worn with a red puff-sleeved shirt, for a rare and welcomed shot of color. For evening, Karan's beloved goddesses returned, this time decked out in a series of colorless jersey gowns, spare beauties that let a woman's body do the talking.
Tommy Hilfiger: He's done rock 'n' roll. He's done casual, visible-boxer-shorts prep. Now, Tommy Hilfiger is applying a thick coat of polish to his collection. "It's about clothes becoming more refined, grown-up and sophisticated," he explained backstage preshow. "It's about this woman who is no longer a teen and who is self-assured and confident." The question of direction has been a frequent one over the years, and Hilfiger knows a crystal-clear message is essential. To that end, the lineup of all-American classics with a keen country club quality made his point. There were classic khaki trenches and cotton twill skirts, a pink-and-white cabana-stripe silk georgette dress and lots of red, white and blue on blazers, silk blouses and cropped pants. It was a fine collection, simple and serviceable. In fact, the only out-there pieces were for men, as in pale pink blazers and short pants embroidered with sea horses, which, with the exception of hip-hop super-preps like Kanye West, should be worn to sports bars with caution.
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