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NEW YORK — With a shortened fashion week, Gotham’s designers went head-to-head vying for retail and editorial attention. And it’s this do-or-die-hard attitude that keeps these designers going.

At Patricia Field’s House of Field show, Britney Spears showed up with her by-now-famous entourage of burly bodyguards, nearly upstaging designer David Dalrymple’s collection. But not quite. He sent out beaded swimwear, black lace dresses and ultrashort, fitted striped looks that left little to the imagination. His HotPant jumpsuit caught Spears’ eye. “That’s cute,” she whispered to her stylist. And just when things couldn’t get hotter, rap-diva Eve tore down the runway in a racy, lacy dress.

This story first appeared in the September 25, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

While Spears wins fashion week’s Gratuitous Appearance award, the Most Provocative Show Title award goes to Zang Toi. His “Lady of the Manor with the Hunky Gardener” collection was full of rose-printed or sequin-striped full-skirted gowns and lots of ribbon details and bright colors. Alice Roi, meanwhile, showed retro “Hostess” looks for the Palm Beach crowd. Her jacquard gown with scalloped edges and a burlap mini coat were more frump than cool, but she managed to do right by those sweet diamond knit tops and dresses and velour slouchy sweatshorts.

Maria Marta Facchinelli, who showed under the GenArt umbrella, presented beautiful and artsy pieces such as a suede dress with a crocheted collar and a black leather corset jacket. James Thomas and Jiwon Park, however, separate designers who by all earlier accounts were ones to watch, failed to deliver solid collections for their runway debuts. Tess Giberson and Todd Thomas, on the other hand, no strangers to shows, both added their own refreshing element to the week. Giberson infused her collection with poetry, literally — scrolling sentences inside skirt pleats or across a jacket. Thomas showed cut-out cotton dresses or breezy silk numbers sprinkled with crystals. And, adding a twist to conventional shows, designers Liz Collins and Gary Graham presented their distinct lineups one after the other, then ended with a surprise collaborative effort called “Griz” — as in ‘grizzly’ — which consisted of eight over-the-top looks, including a gown with baby doll parts attached to its outer layer of tulle. The As Four crew also had a thing for dolls. They clothed featureless dolls in colorful, sculptural pieces and suspended them from a wire spiral at Jeffrey Deitch’s SoHo gallery. Very Tim Burton.

Veteran designers Tony Smith and William Reid of William Reid, now backed by two retired UPS workers, couldn’t make their dresses and skirts, draped and spliced with printed scarves, fly. But they can still cut a fab pair of pants. The designers at RubinChappelle, meanwhile, showed more of their signature twisted bias knits. Of note: a tailored white silk shirt with a pleated collar or the deconstructed chiffon tops.

Showing for the first time in New York, Italian-born, British-based designer Allegra Hicks slimmed down caftans into a perfectly chic look for spring. Her fan club and circle of friends included Tiffany Dubin, Sally Albemarle, and Aerin Lauder. Looking to points East was the Custo Barcelona collection, which showed explosive colors and prints with a Japanese flavor. Carlos Miele split his collection between lots of denim — especially low-rise jeans — and frilly chiffon dresses.

For their 17th anniversary, Girls Rule! selected a lineup of labels that were as varied as teenagers themselves. One highlight was Miss Sixty’s younger sister KillaH that hit the mark for spring with urban athleticwear. And as for Jordache, let’s just hypothesize that Britney would have loved it — flashy, sassy and a little bit trashy.

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