Nicole Miller: While her inspiration may have been a shipwrecked Victorian damsel, Nicole Miller’s spring effort definitely sailed smooth waters start to finish. And she took her front rowers — Anthony Edwards, Cyndi Lauper and “24” star Sarah Wynter — along for the ride.

On the runway, vintage-inspired embroidered tulle tops and dresses, nautical references in a group of denim dresses, miniskirts and shorts, and a lineup of corseted tops and dresses kept the romantic mood going. With all the attention to lovely details and delicate fabrics it’s no wonder her simpler jersey dresses got lost, especially when compared with the pretty short or long evening looks with tarnished bead embroideries.

Miller also slipped in a few looks from her new sportswear line, Miller Girl, which will formally launch during L.A.’s Fashion Week next month. From the new collection, she sent out cool jackets in distressed denim or washed linen paired with boyish little shorts or fitted and cropped drawstring pants, all of which were in sync with Miller’s usual light, feminine touch for spring.



Jill Stuart: Stuart played the girly card once again this season. In what seemed to be a visual pun on Diana Vreeland’s famous remark, “Pink is the navy blue of India,” Stuart opened her spring show with a series of looks exclusively in pale pinks, navy and black. Although the repetition did get to be a bit much, it also created an effective visual statement as well as some of the strongest looks of the show, such as an appealing sweatshirt-cum-wrap sweater paired with cigarette pants.

The pink-navy series ran the gamut. It ranged from simple, as in a plain navy wrap dress with pink ribbon trim, to downright sugary, as in a navy satin Marilyn Monroe-worthy bathing suit topped with a pink bow. And, in the middle, Stuart tossed in flippy, pleated minis, a sexy black pointelle dress that exposed flashes of pink briefs and a couple of belted trenchcoats with flaring hems.

As the designer segued into a palette change, some of the coherence of the collection fell away, although the overall sweetness stayed, since many of the silhouettes were repeated in a white or baby blue rose print. And, of course, it wouldn’t be a Jill Stuart show without a lovely vintage-inspired beaded dress, this one in pink with silver beading.

Luca Luca: As always, Luca Orlandi managed to corral an eclectic mix for his front-row celebs — Euro pop star Paulina Rubio, Ivana Trump on one side of the runway and Donald on the other, Roberto Cavalli, Bianca Jagger, David Copperfield, Salman Rushdie and all those Misses, as in Universe, USA and Teen USA. While Orlandi likes diversity in his audience, the same can’t be said for his runway show. When this designer likes a look, he runs with it. And this season, as with many other designers, Orlandi is taking the pretty route.

While he said he was inspired by the colors of the Mediterranean Sea, the collection was more a reflection of the beaches around said body of water. Orlandi worked one soft pink or nude-toned look after another, with only an occasional nod to pale blue or lilac. But his lineup of sensual and delicate dresses, pants and tops in satin, chiffon and soft leathers certainly spoke of a dreamy, breezy summer evening. Draped lightweight satin tops, jumpsuits and dresses all had a lingerie feeling, especially when accented with ribbons or lace-up ties. That said, the show lacked verve, perhaps because the similarity of shapes and colors that ran throughout the collection diluted his message.



Douglas Hannant: Douglas Hannant’s collection could well be called “Blonde Ambition.” All of his models, after all, were blonde versions of the social ladies — Renee Rockefeller, Valesca Guerrand-Hermès, Debbie Bancroft — for whom he designs. And those ladies were there to cheer him on.

As for the clothes, there was plenty there for them and their daughters. He sent out tweed luncheon suits in rich pastels and a great-looking pair of tweed sheaths — a beige beaded, cap-sleeved look with a white gauze hem and a short rose dress shown under a matching silk gazar coat. Hannant took the season’s soft road even with his leather dresses: a sexy white draped strapless and the leaf green suede shirtdress. The very pretty floaty gowns were in the same spirit. But Hannant’s best moment was his finale — 20 dresses in fabrics that included lace, gauze, silk chiffon and matte jersey, all in white. That’s perfect for blondes.

Derek Lam: When he was designing for Kors Michael Kors, Derek Lam displayed a modern, sporty sensibility appropriate for that line. But for his first collection on his own, he decided to go in the opposite direction and show feminine and ladylike looks reminiscent of the work he did during his short stint at Geoffrey Beene. The results were impressive. Inspired by the chinoiserie and floral patterns of Wong Kar-Wai’s “In the Mood for Love,” the young designer created carnation-printed skirts and jackets, flirty strapless dresses with contrasting sashes in yellow and powder blue, delicate satin bra tops and a blazing red coat that suggested Little Red Riding Hood’s famous jacket, without the hood. Although Lam currently has only private clients, he’s definitely someone to watch.



Lacoste: Think that little green alligator is only synonymous with classic polos and tennis gear? Well, think again. Inspired by Audrey Hepburn in “Funny Face” and Gwyneth Paltrow in “The Royal Tenenbaums,” creative director Christophe Lemaire created a nice balance of looks for his first New York show for Lacoste. There was a wacky mix of colorful striped tops, candy-hued plastic ponchos paired with shorts and simple tanks with oversized gator logos, all fresh options for the street. But Lemaire didn’t entirely forget the firm’s racquet-wielding enthusiasts. For them, he showed crisp V-neck sweaters, cute halter dresses and pleated minis, all of which would work anywhere. The designer has made big strides this season.

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