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New York: Fashion Flashbacks

There was a little bit of the Sixties, a little bit of the Seventies, and a lot of femininity as the fall collections got under way.<br><br><br><br>Stephen Burrows: No matter how well-loved an original may be, every designer has to move on and refresh...

There was a little bit of the Sixties, a little bit of the Seventies, and a lot of femininity as the fall collections got under way.

Stephen Burrows: No matter how well-loved an original may be, every designer has to move on and refresh his look with the times. But it seems like Stephen Burrows is having trouble getting past his much-celebrated signature Seventies style.

In all fairness, there were some hints of freshness in the collection. A tiger-print coat with a swingy trumpet hem, the lynx-print shearling jacket and all the slinky column gowns, in bright chiffon or satin, felt completely new. Even looks that made use of some of Burrows’ trademark elements, such as a short black wrap dress accented by color-blocked belts worked quite well. But the rest looked as though it had been dug out of a time capsule. Perhaps it’s time for Burrows to lose his attachment to the lettuce-edging and color-blocked knits, and to generate more new ideas that he’s obviously capable of creating.

Rebecca Taylor: Rock on, Rebecca. Last season it was David Bowie, and this time it was Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders who spurred Taylor’s imagination. While some might think that Hynde’s punked-out Eighties edge would be too hard for this girl’s girl designer, Taylor pulled it off. She translated the rocker’s layered, lean-lined style into a glammed-up look with lots of beading, plush velvets and long, long scarfs, all in black, blush and blue. Highlights included the glittery shrunken sweaters, stovepipe pants, fake-fur jackets with satin trim and a fun little coat with a charm-bracelet detail at the waist. Overall, it was a strong show for Taylor, who toughened up her signature feminine m.o. in all the right ways.

Tracy Reese: With the stitched equivalent of swaying hips and fluttering eyelashes, Tracy Reese set out to make her fall collection an ode to the coquette, going so far as to offer a dictionary definition of the word in her show notes. Her clothes, too, were coquettish by the book, tempering overt sexiness with an overload of retro cuteness.

Still, Reese’s best pieces looked like charming thrift-store finds, including a plush violet corduroy coat, a slew of sassy cocktail dresses and solid cardigan sweaters that the mythic sexy secretary might wear. But if the collection fell short, it was in Reese’s strict reliance on this Sixties inspiration. The designer has always come through for today’s working girl, and she’s at her best when offering them the gently simmering stuff that builds a modern feminine wardrobe.

Katayone Adeli: Brace yourselves for the return of the Sixties — a decade whose influence is sure to be felt in many a collection. Thankfully, though, trends translate differently depending on whose hands they’re in. To this end, Adeli treated her retro references quite artfully.

The designer borrowed only certain elements of the decade’s style — especially those of Jackie O — melding them with the cool-girl cuts she’s known for. Although she made liberal use of banded boatneck collars, covered buttons and three quarter-length sleeves in her mostly black collection, she kept it clean, unadorned and, best of all, thoroughly modern. Case in point: pairing the retro-inflected tops with ultra-skinny pants. And we predict that Adeli’s slim, dark dresses will have her faithful flock working ladylike sophistication come fall.

Wink: It’s always best to get the bad news out of the way. Sorry Wynn, but you get an “F” for presentation. Jammed into a standing-room-only venue, editors stood shoulder-to-shoulder packed right up to the makeshift wooden runway. But all was forgiven — if not forgotten — when the models filed out in a mugshot-style lineup.

Working with such deconstructed elements as exposed seams and Japanese-inflected draping and wrapping, Wynn Smith exercised more than a modicum of restraint. He seemed to know just how much is too much, sending out interesting, and dare we say intellectual, but very wearable pieces.

Sure a corduroy bustier might not make your shopping list for fall, but how about a khaki trench saved from basic-dom with curved seams and bondage-inspired buckles? Smith added interesting details like an inset of cable knit on a sleeve, and managed to stay chic without being gratuitous or distracting. It’s also impressive to see a designer pull off a dress evocative of Japanese design while keeping it pretty, as Smith did with a wrapped gray jersey look.

Tocca: Girly girls know where to look when they need a frilly fix — Ellis Kreuger’s Tocca. For fall, delicate embroidery, sweet floral prints, slouchy suits and his signature fitted coats all delivered the romance he intended. Key looks included slim corduroy trenchcoats, flowery dresses, all the sexy tweed styles and one masculine plaid vest-and-pants combo that tempered the high estrogen levels. Kreuger worked with an autumnal palette — chocolate browns, deep blues, maroons and mauve with the odd light accent of cotton candy pink or ivory.

Although he stayed true to the Tocca spirit for fall, the holiday looks just weren’t as good, with iridescent velvet dresses and furry coats that leaned more toward the cheap than the charming — a quality his day dresses have in spades.