By  on September 27, 2007

COSTA MESA, Calif. — St. John unveiled its spring 2008 collection here on Tuesday, along with the label's new chief executive officer, Glenn McMahon.

The past two seasons have seen a return to many of St. John's classic knit suits and sparkly evening pieces, as well as the addition of more modern silhouettes such as short dresses, trenchcoats and cropped jackets.

The spring 2008 collection offered more innovations, such as lighter knit jackets with chiffon appliqués worked into the fabric, knit shorts suits, studs and beading, patterned knits and chiffon separates.

McMahon, hired last month from Dolce & Gabbana USA, where he was president, made his public debut in his role, accompanied by St. John co-founder Marie Gray and her daughter, Kelly, the former creative director, who have rejoined the $400 million Irvine, Calif.-based company as creative consultants.

About 450 devotees viewed the collection in a tent erected in the plaza of the Orange County Performing Arts Center.

"Things here have been great so far," McMahon said after the show. "I've gotten a really warm reception from Marie and Kelly Gray and the rest of the team, and we are really excited about the future of St. John."

Among the more directional pieces in the collection are those with handwork and embroidery detail and the chiffon skirts, Kelly Gray noted.

"The prints are spectacular, but for me, it's about really light skirts,'' she said. "We are also noticing a trend toward shorter skirts. It's all about the leg."

Gray also created a few "impulse purchases" such as checked jackets with printed chiffon linings that match the blouses. "It's very personal to have everything from the inside going on the outside as well," she said.

"For me, this collection was all about fun colors and the lightness and airiness of spring,'' Marie Gray said. "One of our goals was to get absolutely featherweight jackets that slide and glide onto the body and I think we did accomplish that. Everything is lighter and fluffier. When it comes to fashion, I always have a great time."

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