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Sophisticated Ladies – Bill Blass, Monique Lhuillier, Behnaz Sarafpour, Luca Luca

From flowing dresses to elegant wrap numbers, fall collections were characterized by a light-handed glamour, as designers favored young, fresh looks.

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From flowing dresses to elegant wrap numbers, fall collections were characterized by a light-handed glamour, as designers favored young, fresh looks.

Bill Blass: Morning, noon and night. That’s when the Bill Blass customer relies on the label, and designer Michael Vollbracht is well aware of this. With fall, he showed just how far the collection has evolved since he took over — despite some earlier bumpy turns along the way. These were real clothes, a lot of them very pretty and exactly what his lady wants. She moves through her day in polished suits — here, a fine camel cashmere version — and luxe outerwear, often embroidered and sometimes with a touch of fur trim. Evening allowed Vollbracht to turn up the drama a notch with sparkly bits and frothy pieces. The flowing red chiffon siren dress certainly grabbed attention with its plunging neckline, but so did the charming beaded gray cocktail number topped with a shearling coat. There may have been no major fireworks, but this season Vollbracht seems more comfortable in upholding the Blass tradition.

Monique Lhuillier: Monique Lhuillier is, first and foremost, committed to making her lady look lovely. And she succeeded for fall with gracefully cut jackets, cocktail dresses, dramatic evening gowns and chic coats. Her bordeaux tweed swingy overcoat with embroidered collar and pockets was a standout along with some of the lightest, prettiest little shrugs in town. The shrugs came out in tulle, taffeta or fur, worn over balloon cocktail dresses or trumpet ballgowns. And all of those gray Chantillly lace looks had a light-handed glamour, such as the sheath with its flaring hemline and the gown with a layered tulle skirt. But given the allure of those airy lace and taffeta looks, one wonders why Lhuillier weighed down the collection with so many of those wallpaper and upholstery fabrics.

Behnaz Sarafpour: “I wanted to do a collection inspired by traditional American sportswear, which is really based in men’s wear,” Behnaz Sarafpour said post-show. But as ambitious and successful a young woman as Sarafpour is, she’d never don a man’s suit to prove it. In fact, she seems to draw power from her unapologetic girlishness. Through that archfemininity, the designer filtered all manner of stuffy sartorial conventions — the trenchcoat, banker gray flannel, the bow tie — and out came a delightful set of clothes that felt young and fresh. The trench morphed into an elegant black wrap dress, while the gray flannel turned into a swingy, pleated kilt or a high-necked coat, both judiciously appliquéd with black lace. Masculine tartans became much less so in silk, cut into a bow-blouse or the cap-sleeved top of a slim dress. Evening, a Sarafpour mainstay, went two ways — low-key in black-and-white dresses that continued a thread from her resort collection, and then glamorous with jeweled necklines. After all, it’s a girl’s prerogative to change her mind.

Luca Luca: Tigers and butterflies and bees, oh my. Color Luca Orlandi a bit dazed and confused, because his vision at Luca Luca lacked the focus he showed in the past. It seemed the designer didn’t know which way he wanted to go — girly, with the bouncy butterfly-embroidered frock, or sexy, à la the gold-and-black-striped taffeta dress and sequined leopard-print skirt, or cashmere casual, as in a simple long-sleeved polo. It all felt out of sorts alongside the tamer and more languid trappings sent down the runway. Still, Orlandi continued to mine the ladylike ease he’s toyed with before, showing enough to satisfy Luca Luca’s social set. Cases in point: the gala-bound silk lamé gowns and effortless wardrobe basics, including wool knit skirts, sleek crepe pantsuits and rich astrakhan coats.

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