SWEET AND TART
IT’S GONE, BUT BY NO MEANS FORGOTTEN — NEW YORK FASHION WEEK, THAT IS. AND HOW COULD IT BE, WITH PREPPIES GOING PUNK, PLENTY OF LOWER EAST SIDE COOL, SURFER GIRLS AND EVEN SOME VICTORIANA THROWN INTO THE MIX.
Wink: Wynn Smith has always used his collection to dramatize a fictional tug-of-war between naughty and nice, and this season is no exception.
In his fantasies, preppies go punk, and schoolgirls climb down trellises and run away into the night. Fleeing, they wear whatever’s at hand: pieces inspired by mom’s vintage Chanel and Courreges — a pale metallic tweed coat or white tennis skirt, for instance; their own girly things patterned in bitsy florals, and perhaps something brazen, such as racy shorts inset with fishnet.
Of course, the contrast has you rooting for the bad girl. Smith’s collection is based on cute T-shirts, boy-cut blazers and big new rave pants that are both classic and cool.
This time, however, he didn’t take the risks that have always given his collection a little mystery and a slightly sinister edge. To Smith’s credit, there are more real clothes here than ever, but usually Muffy goes a little mad, tempering the designer’s sweetness.
Angel Sanchez: Sanchez took the sizzle down a notch this season and came up with a collection that was both restrained and sensual.
Unlike many of this spring’s evening collections, which were embellished to a fare-thee-well, this one offered well-edited beading and embroidery — playful and festive rather than an exercise in excess.
A slender gown, for example, was covered with fluttering acetate squares of blue and green. On the subtler side, there was a long, green organza slip under a sheer white embroidered lace dress and a long organza skirt with a delicately embroidered waist worn with a pashmina bustier. In a season filled with limp-looking pashmina ready-to-wear, this piece was an exception.
Catherine Malandrino: No one can accuse Catherine Malandrino of doing too little. In addition to helping design the Diane Von Furstenberg line, she runs her year-old Broome Street store, Catherine, with her husband, Bernard Aidan.
In her first runway show, Malandrino, who now sells to such stores as Henri Bendel and Barneys, delivered a bright and happy collection — a mood that was particularly evident in her mixes of saffron, amber, curry, jade, tangerine and ruby.
She approached her rock ‘n’ roll segment in a ladylike way, and showed pretty printed, sequined handkerchief-hemline dresses, super-cool embroidered cropped leather pants and skirts with jagged hemlines.
Many of the silhouettes looked great, but some of the combinations were a little heavy-handed, with too much color, texture and embellishment.
Morgane Le Fay: This SoHo fixture is in expansion mode. Last May, the company opened a new flagship store on Wooster Street, and this season, it held a fashion show at the store to showcase what it does best: mysterious chiffon dresses layered with skirts and jackets in a beautiful palette of magenta, sage, gray and ivory.
Le Fay also showed looks from a new line for women, men and children called Avalon, which is more casual and less expensive than the signature collection. The new line will be carried in the original store on Spring Street.
Katayone Adeli: Ignoring the recent trend for hyped-up store openings, Adeli unveiled her Bond Street shop quietly earlier this month. And her presentation was equally low-key; she staged an installation on mannequins two doors away.
As always, the designer paid considerable attention to detail, with such looks as great denim jeans with a braided waistband or tucking at the waist.
She also had an Eighties thing going on in the form of pretty floral halters and tops with short, slit sleeves; suede vests with sheer lace shoulder details, and leather jackets with exposed seams — just the looks her customer will love.
Joan Vass: Vass has never been one to follow the flock, and this season is no exception. In fact, in her program notes, she states that fashion dictation is over, and individuality is more important than ever. She covered a lot of territory, showing looks that ranged from minimalist to elaborate. A sequined turtleneck sweater, a paillette skirt and a coated cotton coat stood out, but she should have steered clear of the bubble pants, glow-in-the-dark linen caftan and sleeveless silk cellophane coat. Overall, however, she put her point across: Express your individuality, have fun with fashion, and keep on dancing.
Rebecca Danenberg: Add another name to the list of hip chicks opening a store on Bond Street. This fall, Rebecca Danenberg will join two other “Bond girls” — Katayone Adeli and Daryl K — when she opens her own shop on Bond Street. Like Adeli and Kerrigan, she’s known for a special brand of cool. Danenberg filled her runway with super-sexy looks with a nod to the Seventies. There were tons of not-for-the-faint-of-heart pieces: gauze dresses with plunging necklines, mesh tunics over pants and leather shorts paired with wrap tops. In the future, however, she’d do well to show fewer looks and concentrate on fit instead.
Bella Freud: This British designer shows in London, but she couldn’t resist the lure of New York fashion week. She didn’t head for the runways, however. Instead, she ran a film of her collection she made with John Malkovich — their second collaboration. The short, called “Lady Behave,” chronicles the life of a disheveled fashionista who turns to “Madame Guinard’s school of etiquette” to learn the power of femininity in a man’s world. Freud’s students were decked out in tailored looks that mixed pinstripes, checks and bright colors, intended to equip them for everything from motorcycle etiquette to gun cleaning. The result: a mix of equal parts English dandy and French femme fatale.