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Pretty, Polished and Punk

Call it the dichotomy of the spring runways: The neat and tailored meets the edgy and dark. <BR><BR><STRONG>Malandrino</STRONG>: It's been quite a ride for Catherine Malandrino since she launched her designer collection in 2005. But a gorgeous stretch...

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Call it the dichotomy of the spring runways: The neat and tailored meets the edgy and dark.

Malandrino: It’s been quite a ride for Catherine Malandrino since she launched her designer collection in 2005. But a gorgeous stretch of road through the village of St. Paul de Vence in southern France proved an idyllic inspiration for spring. Highly sophisticated and oh-so-French, these are clothes for grown-up ladies who will appreciate, and be able to pull off, the drama of a pintucked and braided organza dress, or the embroidered grapes that adorned everything from blouse necklines to the wonderful stacked heels. While there were a few overwrought pieces, on a whole this collection was très chic.

Lacoste: That burst of energy Lacoste brought to its first runway show two years ago is back, and then some. Christophe Lemaire’s spring collection was a virtual celebration: bursts of color, a terrific range of sportswear and beach looks and, most surprising, a lineup that was both girly and sexy. All this, without losing a bit of that classic sportif core. The girliness was delivered in bold polkadots, gingham checks and flirty pleats. As for the sex appeal, there were wide-legged, hip-hugging pants; skinny high-waisted shorts, and second-skin tanks and Ts, along with sizzling swimwear. For this traditional tennis house, it was a step forward into fashion — as in the terry cloth hobble-like skirt (this season’s trend du jour) and the long white beach dress that was just fabulous.

Phi: Andreas Melbostad is always clear about his inspiration; this time around, he looked to The Clash. The result, not for girly girls, was an edgy twist on men’s tailoring, toughened up with zippers and chains, adorning a silhouette that was boxy on top and abbreviated on the bottom. Sleeveless blazers, vests and delicate tie-dyed silk tanks, often worn all at once, were paired with miniskirts, shorts or skinny pants that showed off some very butch motorcycle boots. Despite the use of lightweight fabrics like crepe de chine and tropical wool, all that layered suiting might be a little heavy for spring.

Brian Reyes: Pretty and pulled together were the hallmarks of Brian Reyes’ show, which had its moments of originality. For his loyalists, there were variations on his standard silhouette: a corset-like top with a pouffy bottom, here realized in camisoles and skirts in a muted palette. What was more interesting were the bold textures and colors he chose — the show-opening pastel printed dress and the vibrant fuchsia frock, for example. On the other hand, the thigh-grazing tunics, or swim dresses as Reyes called them, were a big Prada-esque question mark.

Alexander Wang: Charlize Theron in “Monster” and Melanie Griffith in “Working Girl” might be the unlikeliest of fashion muses. But Alexander Wang’s collection wasn’t the eyesore that it could have been. Instead, he proposed a confidently cool dressing-down: ripped denim shorts paired with a roomy business blazer or breezy summer top, an oversize boyfriend shirt-cum-dress, simple pleated crepe jumpers. The big question, though, is will his customers shell out big bucks for clothes that resemble what’s probably sitting in their closets?

G-Star Raw: Staying true to the hard-edged, seemingly “Mad Max”-inspired style that G-Star has cultivated since 1996, designer Pierre Morisset organized a slickly choreographed show on a moving runway, much to the delight of attendees (including Duran Duran’s Simon Le Bon and Nick Rhodes). Though there was plenty of the brand’s trademark rigid, indigo denim, other fabrics such as cotton knit and jersey were fashioned into short-sleeved dresses and drop-crotch pants, and contributed to a well-rounded collection.

Jenni Kayne: Focusing on shape and proportion, Jenni Kayne presented a clean lineup that blended a Thirties elegance with a Seventies ease. The floor-length chiffon column gowns in forest green and deep teal were a refreshing choice for spring, while an ikat-printed chiffon minidress rounded it all out.

Ohne Titel: Designers Alexa Adams and Flora Gill, in a noteworthy sophomore effort, weren’t afraid to explore new shapes, and did so with aplomb. Jackets with molded, nipped-in waists, textured knits with rounded shoulders and silk skirts with ever-so-slight bustles were all inviting despite their unorthodox silhouettes. The season’s inspiration, Africa, was manifested in crochet cardigans and tribal-patterned dresses, subtly mixed in with terrifically tailored looks. Adams and Gill still have a few wrinkles to iron out — the unnecessary raffia-and-surgical tubing accessories, for instance — but Ohne Titel definitely merits attention.

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