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A little bit country, a little bit rock ‘n’ roll — that’s the mood designers were in, sending out wearable looks that were playful and ruffled, finely tailored and biker-girl chic.

Dana Buchman: With every season, Dana Buchman introduces more and more details that move her collection into increasingly fashion-y directions. Take this season’s leopard sightings, which emphasized the designer’s playful side. They were seen on a straightforward car coat, in the ruffles of a ladylike blouse and in the swingy pleats of a gray skirt. This subtle glamour was the word, in fact, throughout the lineup in which fur accents and sprinkles of beadwork abounded. And the shrunken brown leather jacket — with sleeves pushed up just so — had a definite cool factor. This is good news for her customer, who relies on the label for a round-the-clock look. And as for that all-important 9-to-5 time frame for the busy career girl, Buchman sent out plenty of finely tailored suits — always her strength — done in classic plaids and pinstripes.

Luella Bartley: Only in Luella Bartley’s mind could the fictional Holly Golightly ever mingle with rockabilly punks. And only Bartley could pull it off with both chic and cheek. Backed by the real-life rocker actually known as Holly Golightly, fall was a rabble-rousing ode to dressing on the sexier side of nice. Bartley’s cool Brit sensibility called for a second-skin fit to button-down shirts and jeans. She layered on the proper sweaters and cardigans — one embroidered with “darling” — that she loves so much, as well as smart plaid coats and shrunken jackets that ran the gamut from tony to biker. But she clearly had the most fun tinkering with the iconic Little Black Dress-and-pearls idea, tweaking it slightly a few different times until completely revisioning it into a witty, little black skirt dotted with pearl beads.

3.1 Phillip Lim: Was all the preshow hype leading up to the 3.1 Phillip Lim show worth it? You bet. Forgoing the catwalk caterwaul, Lim opted for an informal tableau vivant with guests weaving through the 20-model presentation — a perfect setting, since his clothes need to be seen up close. Take, for example, the fine gold rope beading trimming a brown shearling coat, or the delicate pleated ruffle appliqués running down the sleeve of a trés chic antique silk blouse, casually belted with a loose sash. This was a collection of polished pretty, but Lim added a sense of contrast with leather vests and band jackets, as well as studded footwear and gold-chained bags with a touch of biker chic. All the while, he kept the looks refined without being too precious. Even the string quartet playing Prince’s “Purple Rain” lent to the counterpoint sensibility, what Lim called “classic with a bit of madness.” Boyish bib dresses, raw denim and oversized knits rounded out the fare, giving a little something for everyone — and enough to keep retail coffers busy this fall.

This story first appeared in the February 7, 2006 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

James Coviello: It’s another trip down history lane at James Coviello, and this season he’s sending his woman to the Interwar period of 20th-century England, when aristocratic lasses and bohemian artists were uprooted from their households. Thus, Coviello’s girl is one on the move, but, as the runway’s moody backdrop of abandoned furnishings and stacked luggage announced, she’s no jet-set madam. Her wardrobe is prim and country nostalgic — plaid wool gauze dresses, patchwork hand-knit shrugs, embroidered silk chiffon camis and short-sleeved ruffled blouses — in a quiet palette of mauve, olive and plum. And while the simpler fare proved oh-so-chic — a lace knit top appliquéd with a charming bow or a silk chiffon cami accented with an organza corsage — the collection stumbled when it came to the heavy-handed striped taffeta shrugs and fake fur-trimmed jacquard skirts.

Jovovich-Hawk: “Tasha had to leave to go to DKNY,” apologized Milla Jovovich at her West Village town house, where she and Carmen Hawk presented their Jovovich-Hawk collection. But one model’s early departure was no reason for hand-wringing, since Jovovich had enlisted a slew of her friends, including Trish Goff, Anouck Lepere and Lou Doillon. For fall, the duo channeled independent women through time, christening pieces after individuals, i.e., the Dorothy Parker — a black crepe jacket with a white pointed collar. “We went from women in myths to female detectives with moxie in trenchcoats,” noted Hawk. But after all is said and done, this team knows what girls — both their friends and otherwise — love to wear. Their gorgeous printed silk dresses and blouses closely approximate your most treasured vintage find, without the stains. But they also go beyond the old-is-new approach with a fresh take on a speckled brown tweed cut into sweet mini shifts, as well as coats with leather shank buttons or jaunty, well-tailored waistcoats — perfect pieces to liven up those aforementioned silk charmers.

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