Oscar de la Renta: As the sun sets on “Sex and the City,” after 94 fabulous, frivolous episodes of fashion frenzy, it’s no wonder that Oscar de la Renta is in homage mode. The fanciful collection he showed Monday would suit Sarah Jessica Parker’s Carrie to a T.

A quirky elegance gave de la Renta’s fall look its bounce. Tweed jackets, skirts and day dresses came edged with undone fringe, but while those edges hinted at raw, there was nothing rough about the look. Like Parker, who has proven herself a worthy muse for chez de la Renta, Oscar’s ladies are a decidedly feminine lot, and his new suits, cut both narrow and full, promoted the lady luxe mood.

For the most part, these were clothes built to wear, substantial and sane, while still indulging in a little fainting couch drama. A flurry of feathers flew delightfully with cardigans edged with tiny fanned feathers, a lacy cocktail dress dancing with ostrich fringe or a black full-feathered skirt worn with a tiny jacket and an ivory shirt tied with a light, loopy bow. It was all polished enough, but never turned dull with overpolishing. A smattering of sequins shone here and there across a petal pink party dress, while organic-looking pulls and knots bordered a tweed suit.

From time to time, however, Oscar, like good, old Carrie herself, got more than a little carried away. His taffeta cocktail dresses, for example, looked a tad awkward as they skimmed the body before going pouf. Conversely, when de la Renta set his mind to ruffling, which he did with abandon, the results were a dream. A ruffle, after all, is something of a celebration in itself, and Oscar’s black evening gown, its wild ruffles climbing like ivy, would put any woman in a party mood. Then came the positively pyramidal finale — two grand look-out-’cause-here-I-come ballgowns flecked with sparkle aplenty and pumped up with yards of tulle. As Carrie might say, “Magnifique!”



Carolina Herrera: Baby, it’s cold outside. But that shouldn’t keep a gal from looking chic. Certainly not according to Carolina Herrera, who found inspiration for fall on the glamorously turned-out slopes of Gstaad and St. Moritz.By the bright white light of the snow-flocked day, Herrera’s ideal woman works a pair of ski pants and a sweater with Olympic elan. And if she secretly prefers après to schussing around, who cares? She can stay oh-so-cozy in a cashmere jacquard pullover and matching scarf that remind her of the Fair Isles of her youth. Not the nostalgic type? Then she’s better suited to spectacular navy cashmere ribbed knit worked with mink. For when it’s time to really brave the cold, Herrera just kept layering on the luxe, along the way supplying plenty of sable, short or long, and unfettered navy cashmere. While the prevailing attitude may have been casual, it oozed indulgence at every turn, right down to the hand-painted gold-leaf motif that ran throughout, adding an artisanal touch to scarves and coats.

That golden moment dimmed after dark with a too-familiar parka-over-long skirt moment and some high-glam gowns that just didn’t deliver the intended drama. On the other hand, Herrera’s beaded cashmere Aran knit sweater should prove a snow siren’s delight, while a pale, gold-drenched gown was made for Midas magic.



Tuleh: “More is more,” Bryan Bradley declared before showing his fall collection. And as it turned out, more was just right. In his show on Sunday night, Bradley delivered a bold calling card: Here are clothes for well-mannered young socials, of course, but sexpots, starlets and countless other women who like to dress to be noticed, step right up.

Bradley believes that unlike spring, when visions of sweet prints fill the air — and his clients’ closets — fall lends itself to greater bravado. What to do about the winter chill? Give it a great, big cozy hug in chunky tweeds in the loudest, most graphic weaves imaginable. Their fabulous audacity worked to perfection in coats cut precisely, if not always simply, and finished with giant glass buttons. And a girl can pile on that fur in offhanded little jackets — why not give in to the eccentricity of zebra-printed fluff over bright aqua and yellow? — or big, diva collars.

Of course, new versions of Tuleh’s now revered printed dresses turned up, as sensual as ever. But increasingly, Bradley has turned his attention toward chichi suits and separates in sometimes out-there combinations of tweeds, prints and peekaboo silks. He also showed amusing shrunken cashmere logo knits in odd contexts; the splendid peculiarity of a mint green pullover with a flying-appendage-dotted silk dress would suit a deb who wants to dabble in grunge without looking undone. Because social or sexpot, diva or deb, Tuleh girls don’t do undone. And why should they, when more makes for such glamorous fun?

Diane von Furstenberg: As always, Diane von Furstenberg’s characteristic sense of fun and exuberant energy filled the runway for fall — but it wasn’t quite enough to carry the show. This time around, her collection was burdened by too many converging themes, such as her Amazon looks, which she called “Glamazone,” and her Crusades trope, which featured plenty of hoods and chain mail. Not your ideal combination. In fact, it was hard to ignore the hooded Grace Jones number and the group of shiny corduroy suits and jackets. But when she stuck to what she does best — easy, flirty, feminine looks — the combinations worked. A wool jersey wrap coat was simple and sophisticated; an embroidered cardigan added some exotic allure to a little printed dress, and her slinky boudoir tops and delicate pintucked chiffon pieces tempered the wilder fare. Generally, though, it was this string of strong individual pieces that became the most striking elements of the lineup. One thing is for certain, we can always count on von Furstenberg’s shows to whisk us away from the daily doldrums into a fantastical reverie of her creation, and this season was no exception.



Monique Lhuillier: This is a hopeful moment for designers on the ascent, and Monique Lhuillier’s star shines brightly with possibility. Though her base is the casual world of sunny Beverly Hills, her message is one of dressed-up, polished refinement, and has caught on among the young celebrity set in her home town. It’s no wonder, as Lhuillier understands youthful glamour and gives it a distinctive sparkle. For fall, she left behind spring’s sprightly, girlish tweeds in favor of a more mysterious mood, delivering looks evocative of both siren (an unforgivingly chic black suit) and crazed ballerina (a froth of lavender organza under a gold lace bed jacket). And there was plenty in between — bouclé coats, flouncy skirts and chic dresses. Once or twice, Lhuillier let her bridal sensibilities muscle their way into the collection with overwrought results, as in a rosette-bedecked teal satin evening gown. But for the most part, she exercised cool control in a beautiful collection.

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