Vivienne Tam: Gung Hay Fat Choy! Vivienne Tam’s show began promisingly enough. The day was certainly auspicious — Chinese New Year, which the designer celebrated by leaving red lai-see envelopes, containing one greenback, on everyone’s seat — and the premise was plenty inviting: a night at the opera with Greta Garbo. Of course, Tam being Tam, the drama in question was the Beijing opera, and she kept the references to prints and silhouettes, which was a good thing, since her collections often fall short when she’s too mired in her own sinophilia. This time, the two (Chinese opera and Garbo) were a match made in tien as Tam showed a masked print here, a Chinese beaded and embroidered accent there, and did Garbo to the hilt with everything else in the lineup. There were Forties skirts and chiffon tie blouses, high-waist trousers in plaid as well as velvet dresses and fitted jackets. Tam, however, steered off course during the second half, with the sheath dresses, taffeta getups and a pleated metallic magenta skirt that were all pretty enough on their own, but downright foreign to the overall tone of the collection.
Alice Roi: Alice Roi is steadily gaining momentum. For fall, Roi went with sleeker, more refined versions of her often kooky fashions of past seasons. Perhaps it is an aftereffect of her recent engagement or simply a function of experience. The designer displayed grown-up schoolgirl charm in the form of sweet velvet ruffled dresses and velvet eyelet tunics as well as wool pinafore dresses over smartly tailored shirts. Thick woolen sweaters were belted over leggings and miniskirts in subtle navy and bright orange and mustard yellows. Though she proved her talents in her blouses and dresses, her sampling of pants, such as the flared, tight “dandy pants,” and her low-slung satin track pants, were a tough sell. This season marked Roi’s first foray into a licensing deal with Tendler Furs, and the result was fur-trimmed belted blazers, a woven mink preppy-ish sweater and a smattering of fur accessories.
Carlos Miele: It’s obvious from his work that Carlos Miele loves women. Often, however, his fall collection seemed to be populated with dresses that tried too hard to make his beloved sexy customer the belle of the ball. Remember when your mother told you to look in the mirror and take off one thing before you left the house? Well, it’s sound advice, and Miele’s fall collection was at its best when the designer reined himself in just a touch. One such look — a low-neck, multicolored chiffon dress — was by no means simple, but was thankfully free of a fluttering fishtail hem, superfluous pleating or a heavy macramé trim that burdened some of his other pieces. The designer’s expansion to separates was a plus, with elegant pairings of navy cashmere dotted knits and chiffon skirts, both short and long. And though the designer is attempting to bring about social change by employing local Brazilian craftsmen to do handwork on his gowns, the pleated appliqué and macramé only weighed his work down.
Milly by Michelle Smith: Katharine Hepburn and Bette Davis would have loved Michelle Smith’s Milly lineup. For fall, the designer tapped into Hollywood’s film-noir archives — all the sassy dames who walked the MGM back lot smoking cigarettes and wearing trousers before it was the thing to do. Dropping the frou of past seasons, Smith went for superluxe, from polished satin dresses and skirts to dramatically big furs, provided by Saga. The long tweed trousers topped by belted sweaters and silky blouses might have had Hepburn’s sporty blue-blood racing. And all the strong-shouldered jackets and suits would have been right up Davis’ chic alley. Ditto the fantastic espresso fake mink herringbone wrap, belted to a feather-print chiffon dress. Only a few too slick looks, like the black satin halter jumpsuit, rang too disco for comfort.
Marc Bouwer: If the runway show Marc Bouwer presented at the newly minted Cipriani on 23rd Street is any indication, this designer loves the glamour, glitter and decadence of Old Hollywood. His fall collection was an ode to the silver-screen sirens of yesteryear — think Veronica Lake in melt-in-your-mouth silk satin columns — which bodes well for the sexy starlets of today who adore Monsieur Marc so much. A draped Empire gown paired with a fur chubby made a strong red-carpet statement, as did the beaded kimono dress and the velvet satin floor-sweeping confections. As always, the furs were elegantly shown, as in the crop coyote jackets, braided mink coats and knitted mink-tailed stoles, which made for the perfect accoutrements to his Tinseltown-bound eveningwear.