Change is good. And that's what designers seemed to be thinking, showing spring collections that were softened, refined or took a whole new direction.

Rebecca Taylor: In a season of sober colors and subtle embellishments, how does a contemporary designer strike the proper balance between her expressive, girly roots and the latest turns in fashion? For spring, Rebecca Taylor found the perfect answer by infusing her sweet dots and charming eyelets with her own take on tomboy style. Going with a lighter touch, she whipped up a crisp, canvas jacket, for example, with light, gold-stitch embroideries. There were also dotted minidresses, easy hopsack coats and a playful oxford blouson shirtdress that featured yellow piping and a heart-shaped pocket to boot. Taylor also left behind the soft pastels, infusing plenty of cream, khaki and olive into the lineup, with just a dash of lilac, orange and yellow to keep things bright.

Richard Chai: After a couple of seasons of Space-Age elegance, Richard Chai has returned to terra firma with a quirky, yet feminine, collection. His usual attention to cut and form was manifested in architectural seams on sharp jackets and camp shirts, the latter made more chic than geek when cut from pink silk taffeta printed with tiny rosebuds. In fact, the juxtaposition of artisan details — origami-like pleating and patchwork dresses and tops — with more typical girly trappings — oversized silk sashes tied into huge bows — is what gave this collection its charm. Those few collars decorated with oversized crystals, however, were a little too Prada for comfort. That said, it was Chai’s nonchalant freshness that stood out in this collection, especially in crinkled silk trenches and a white dress with overlapping tulle panels in vibrant purple.

Zang Toi: Known for his opulence and what some might describe as over-the-top ornamentation, Zang Toi refined his collection this season, offering some exquisite pieces without diverging too far from his signature look. The designer took us to Africa for safari, marking the occasion with fantastic tribal music and several true African beauties. Day looks showed up mostly in khaki silk tweeds, jackets and pants, microminis and tailored suits. Evening, of course, turned more dramatic, with elaborate gowns fit for the Queen of Sheba. Case in point: the gorgeous black ombré silk chiffon gown, paired with an African beaded necklace. Toi’s only divergence was his butterfly embroidery, which felt unsophisticated compared with his other pieces; some floral embroidery, too, looked cumbersome on the delicate silk.Carmen Marc Valvo: Carmen Marc Valvo’s spring collection was meant to take us to the Mod days of the early Sixties in the glitzy city, of all places, Las Vegas. While his dresses and separates certainly had sparkle, provided mostly by metallic linen and embroidery, they lacked a sense of freshness and vivacity that marked the era. Perhaps Valvo overthought the theme. He can usually be counted on for pretty dresses in varying styles, but this time, he underwhelmed with an array of dull prints, such as kaleidoscope silk chiffons and polkadots. The designer did, however, have a few high points with his swimwear, which included bikinis, banded suits and a great black-and-pearl, polkadot halter number that was well suited to the era Valvo was channeling.

Nanette Lepore: Nanette Lepore sent out a collection that often looked like snapshots of Route 66 road trips she took with her mom. There was, in the figurative sense, the Painted Desert: blanket-striped camis and dresses in earthy tones. That broken-down hippies’ Volkswagen in New Mexico: white-stitched patchwork jackets and skirt. Lepore, who often lets a motif get the best of her, should have left the bright yellow cactus print by the side of the road, but she continued on with an odd transition to a tropical locale circa 1946 that actually worked. This is where the fun was, where she allowed her knack for translating innocent charm to take over. She spun bright floral prints into Andrews Sisters-style dresses, plenty of sweet eyelet tops and a set of adorable high-waisted shorts.

load comments
blog comments powered by Disqus