Yeohlee: A MetroCard and a fan (to stir the stifling heat) were all you needed to enter the Sixth Avenue and 42nd Street subway station where Yeohlee Teng presented her spring collection. There was a stellar drum band, I & I Drumlink, banging away, while a clutch of yelping fans greeted Teng’s quirky mix of real people and celebrity models. New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, for example, watched his wife, Veronica, saunter down the cement “catwalk” in a cotton crepe painter’s cardigan and silk satin sarong. Others modeling included Constance White and Atoosa Rubenstein. But Farrah Fawcett’s appearance on the runway created the biggest buzz of all.
This story first appeared in the September 11, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The collection itself was beautifully executed.
The designer’s signature architectural looks were prettiest in the form of a black satin 11-circle skirt and a silk organza four-circle top, which created a flutter of fabric petals, spring’s version of last season’s rectangular play. Naturally, there were those great Yeohlee coats. This time around, the best was a simple long duster in black lacquered wool, worn with a nylon circle skirt and matte jersey halter.
Phi: During the show, Phi’s founder and ceo Susan Dell sat in the front row sandwiched between self-described “friend and fan” Diane Sawyer and Vanity Fair’s fashion director Elizabeth Saltzman. Dell has given up the design glory and post-show wave to new design director Andreas Melbostad. Melbostad has done stints at Calvin Klein and Donna Karan, and that gave some clues about what was to come.
This season’s collection was in the same vein as the last: a stripped-down and monotone look that was either tough or pretty. No eclectic mixing or Sarah Jessica Parker references here. However, some of the dresses, such as the simple black, nude and white chiffon numbers detailed with seaming or raw edges, were certainly chic and pretty enough to catch Ms. Parker’s eye. Along with these, Phi’s best moments — sure to appeal to the customers of Dell’s new SoHo boutique — were such items as a delicate, intricately-knit racerback tank or an easy black linen trench. And while her clients might take a chance on a satin jacket with a dramatic padded collar, they will probably pass on such attempts at fashion with a capital F as the balloon-shaped skirts and shorts.
Lela Rose: Lela Rose has a flair for retro style, and her collection for spring displayed it. The designer is continually tweaking and refining her silhouettes, and this season, her efforts resulted in a delightful lineup of polished dresses and separates reminiscent of the Fifties. She gave meticulous attention to detail, executing each ruffle, embroidery and trim with precision, as in her lovely light blue embroidered tulle dress that had just the right degree of flounce. There were also pretty dresses with sparkling metallic waistbands and lace-detailed bustier tops — perhaps a riff from Proenza Schouler, but they looked great with cropped pants. The designer showed her playful side with cheery and colorful blouses in dotted green or red and the sequined tanks and Ts with lace or satin skirts. But she could have done without the boxy jackets and coats.
Rosa Cha: Talk about a leg up on the competition. On Friday, models at Rosa Cha strutted out between the gams of a 15-foot-tall, plaster bikini-clad lower torso and legs. Designer Amir Slama doesn’t bother much with subtlety — but, with another knockout collection under his belt, why should he?
Slama’s never short on ideas of how to make women look sexy and swimwear feel fresh, and this time around he offered 74 examples of his ideas. But this seemed to be just fine with the packed crowd, which included Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, Damon Dash and Nicole Ritchie. For 2005, Slama is hot to revive the high-cut suit of Eighties’ fame, which he sent out in bold stripes and exotic fruit prints cut out here, there and everywhere. Boy shorts got some of the spotlight, although his versions were comprised entirely of thin straps of fabric with thongs underneath. There were also inverted ruffles in the prettiest of tie-dye prints on bikini bottoms, corsets made of fish leather, and plenty of the asymmetric cutouts for which he’s known. The cover-ups and accessories looked great too; a one-shoulder ruched top with tiny grommets, and the multiring shoulder bags, in particular. This was one walk on the wild side worth taking.
Alice Roi: Alice Roi may be the queen of downtown cool, but the high point of her spring show was highly dramatic — and very romantic. At the end of her presentation, when the models came out for the finale, some carried signs that asked “Will you marry me?” and then Roi’s boyfriend, Marc Beckman, an agent for designers, jumped onstage with a ring, a Judith Ripka brilliant-cut diamond set in platinum. The audience was applauding, some even standing on their chairs to get a better look.
The collection itself was Roi’s most mature to date. She went calm and quiet for spring, sending out a lineup of boyish, preppy looks in muted tones of white, gray and navy, which included little blazers and button-down shirts paired with pants or printed pencil skirts. One of Roi’s best styles was a white tuxedo shown with shorts instead of pants. There was also plenty of girly fare, such as the delicate lace and satin slip dresses. The only problem this time around: the pieces in lacquered fabrics, an experiment which might not translate from the runway to reality.
Oh yeah, and, in case you’re wondering, she said, “Yes!”
James Coviello: A James Coviello show is always a study in charm, and with each collection, the designer reminds us once again that clothes don’t need to be elaborate to look great. In his floaty printed chiffon skirts and slender gowns, for example, he kept the ruffles and tiers to a minimum, allowing the material to move naturally, and his girly knit cardigans with satin bows were sweet but not saccharine. The designer proved that classy looks can also be sexy with the muted crochet camisoles and a beautifully cut, intricately seamed dress that would make any girl swoon with delight. But Coviello also offered some counterpoint to his array of soft looks when he sent out his silk jacquard jacket that looked wonderfully stiff paired with the flared skirt in a loosely knitted rayon.
Yigal Azrouel: When all was said and done, it was a pretty impressive showing from Yigal Azrouel — emphasis on the pretty. In his parade of dresses were some highly covetable winners. They made use of the designer’s obvious desire to work in subtle details to create his own version of chic. For instance, the sequined trim that ran along the neckline of a slim black chiffon gown was just barely visible through the dress’ sheer black capelet top. And the intricate, Grecian-inspired draping gave the collection’s best frocks, such as one swingy number in white and a slim, cap-sleeved version in black, an understated, but beautiful, advantage. However, although Azrouel’s technique of layering black tulle over white silk for a chiaroscuro effect was an interesting idea, it wasn’t as inspiring as he seemed to think. And some things — such as a few pieces cut in a floral jacquard silk and lavender and blue satin — just detracted from what was mostly a strong effort.
Esteban Cortazar: At the ripe old age of 20, Esteban Cortazar has finally graduated — from high school, that is. Now that the novelty of being a teenage designer is behind him, he did his best to focus on the clothes this season, with mixed results. There were some cute pieces, such as a white cotton trench with yellow piping paired with a fluttery chiffon skirt, and even a grown-up moment with some evening gowns in layered floral chiffons, but the rest of the collection fell flat. This Miami-based designer loves loud colors, and he filled the runway with acid yellow and green dresses pieced together in suede and chiffon. It’s hard to imagine anyone wearing such garish looks. Cortazar may have left the high school playground, but a dose of higher education may be in order. Parsons, perhaps?