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This spring, remember these three words: slim, prim and trim. The season bears the hallmark of simple chic in neutral hues — with just a dash of color.
Temperly London: Girly girls have reason to rejoice. Alice Temperly, a favorite of London’s social set, has jumped the pond with her saccharin concoctions in tow. The designer has a unique sense when it comes to dressmaking, often showing crocheted and bold intarsia. For spring, those intarsia numbers were done up in a color-blocked Mayan motif, comprising black, rose and aubergine, while crocheted inserts sweetened up some pale Empire-waisted gowns and dresses. A couple of rainbow-striped pieces were attention-getting, if not for the faint of heart. As pretty as some of these dresses were, however, Temperly could benefit from a little editing, simply to cut down on the repetition.
Chaiken: Simple and pretty — two very important words in creative director Jeff Mahshie and founder and president Julie Chaiken’s vocabulary. There was not one print on Chaiken’s spring runway, and they certainly weren’t missed. Not when they sent out clean silhouettes in pale pink, cream, black and gray with the tiniest of details — a soft ruche here, a curved collar there and subtle rope belts throughout. That’s not to say everything was completely muted. Sponsored by Benjamin Moore, which also backed the duo’s collection last season, Chaiken tossed in a few bright reds. And for the first time, more covetable than the label’s well-cut pants were the trim skirts and party dresses, especially a slightly pouffed and crinkled, silk strapless number. The only tricky part of the show was the names of the colors — clay, string and conch — which translated, are orange, khaki and cream.
Rag & Bone: Add one more premium denim label to next season’s must-have list. Designers Nathan Bogle, Marcus Wainwright and David Neville treated weary editors to some top-shelf champers along with some great clothes for their debut women’s collection. Their men’s line has been a hit since its inception in 2003, but with plenty of girls-about-town to test-drive samples, including Sienna Miller and Drew Barrymore, the trio showed lean separates, including suede bomber jackets, cotton blazers and fitted, short-sleeve blouses paired with dark, Japanese denim miniskirts, trousers and side-slit wool pencil skirts. There were no bells and whistles and there didn’t need to be. Just like the Kentucky hills where the denim is manufactured, these guys are on a roll.
Diesel: A curious inspirational pairing, Diesel’s girls evoked postwar Forties femme fatales with touches of Japanese prints. That meant lots of sharp-shouldered military jackets and cropped pants, dark denim pencil skirts and embroidered silk tops and dresses. And while there were plenty of street-savvy, wearable clothes this time — as opposed to last season’s over-the-top Russia-meets-Wild West fete — there was little to write home about.
Alexandre Herchcovitch: If the formula works, then stick with it. That’s the motto chez Herchcovitch. Few designers are able to layer with the sort of abandon that comes so naturally to this quirky Brazilian. For spring, Herchcovitch seems to have imagined Marcia Brady ditching her suburban sprawl to tour the Alps with the Grateful Dead. Sounds trippy, but once your eyes got accustomed to the mix it wasn’t hard to find some super clothes. Herchcovitch worked wavy gravy prints of multicolored florals into chiffon sundresses and tops in a way that resembled tie-dye. Tyrolean jackets and sharp little shorts also were trimmed and inset with those poppy florals, or another of the designer’s favorites: gingham. Oh, and this season’s, “I can’t believe that’s made of rubber” moment: a full white skirt with floral appliqué.
Matthew Williamson: It’s inevitable that, when the fashion tides turn, every designer goes through growing pains. To Matthew Williamson’s credit, however, his bohemian leanings preceded the trend, which is now winding its way down. The designer successfully addressed this issue last season with a great collection full of chic, tailored looks. But that wasn’t the case for spring. Williamson alternated plainer pieces — creamy knits and tailored shorts trimmed charmingly with fat pearls — with more colorful fare, such as printed dresses, shirts and some inexplicable long skirts. But the graphic and geometric prints, which had not a whiff of Goa, were simply busy and unflattering. Better were the silk tops and dresses with trompe l’oeil necklaces done up in beads that fell straight and flapperish on the body.
Costello Tagliapietra: There is certainly something to be said for consistency, but at some point, every designer must grow and evolve. So it went that Jeffrey Costello and Robert Tagliapietra, who love jersey more than Bruce Springsteen, worked in some woven fabrics and expanded their all-dress policy to include tailored jackets and pants. To the pair’s credit, the venture into new territory didn’t feel forced. The slim pants worn with bloused and belted jackets went with the proverbial, and literal, flow, cut in heavy georgette that behaved much in the same way as the designers’ favored fabric. But the dress still formed the meat of their collection. Only this time, the usual slew of intricately cut and mysteriously flattering jersey dresses was joined by a few breezy numbers in a light, crinkly crepe.