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NEW YORK — As a whole, the American collections haven’t been much to write home about. It would appear that safe, and in some cases, dull, is the biggest trend of the season. But that’s not to say there haven’t been a few solid efforts and bright spots.
Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough of Proenza Schouler made a big noise last season with the Parsons thesis they parlayed into a fall collection for Barneys. Their ethos of easy elegance combined with a perfectionist’s love of details has had editors and retailers buzzing. And their spring lineup, in washed-out pink, gray and beige, did not disappoint. They paired fabrics in unlikely combinations that could work for day or night: the cotton twill jacket with a flippy satin skirt, a handbeaded, washed-silk tank worn over cotton boy shorts.
Unfortunately, Behnaz Sarafpour seemed to be off the mark. Though thoughtfully crafted, her presentation didn’t have a clear direction, jumping from black or white wrapped minidresses and a group of black satin swimsuit-looking pieces to vibrant hand-painted looks. She should have further explored the latter group, which were a fun and cool representation of what she’s known for.
Over at m.r.s., Molly Stern and her posse of designers delivered a tight 15-piece collection of what her customers—such as Ellen Barkin and Julianne Moore, who got the address wrong and showed up too late—love best: hip, artsy clothes that aren’t too tricky. This time, there was a cinched blouse over little shorts or a sexy cowlneck halter top and flared skirt, all with her signature stitched details. Meanwhile, Han Feng served up a good dose of sheer feminine layers in soft pinks, orange and green on clean-cut jackets and tops and pants with ribbon details.
Michael Soheil worked a tropical theme with splashes of coral, peach and yellow on mostly cream looks — embroidered tulle and tiered dresses, sequined tops and lots of slim pants. But he should have stayed away from the tricky crocheted swimwear. The best of the Robert Best show were his navy double-faced satin peacoat over a chiffon skirt and all those luxurious prom looks for grownup girls—strapless, short flared dresses in violet, gray or apple green cotton.
And finally, Ron Leal, who’s been designing since the late Sixties, brought the best of his experience to the spirited and elegant Pamela Roland collection. While his daywear was great — that black hooded cashmere sweatshirt and white cutout miniskirt, for example— it was the evening looks that stood out. Case in point: A black-and-white Forties-inspired floral silk dress with ruffles at the hem and along the torso. He also did one in linen over an organza petticoat and a sculpted crepe look draped snugly at the sides.