BOTH SIDES NOW
THERE ARE TWO SIDES TO EVERY STORY, AND THAT WAS THE CASE WITH THE TALE OF THE NEW YORK SHOWS. WHILE SOME DESIGNERS CHOSE TO KEEP IT CLEAN AND SIMPLE FOR SPRING, OTHERS COULDN’T RESIST THE URGE TO EMBELLISH.

Carmen Marc Valvo: When it comes to evening clothes, Valvo certainly knows how to cover his bases. And he often does it with great flair. This season, the designer is exploring new territory — most of it interesting and some of it terrific.
Among the best looks were pashmina pants, ruched tops and beaded skirts; draped suede camisoles worn with glass-beaded lace skirts, and shirts in pearlized leather over sequined bias skirts. The gowns for which Valvo is known are still here and looking good. His newest renditions are in delicate pashmina, and though pretty, the fabric appeared too fragile to carry all that beading and embroidery. Sturdier, but nonetheless beautiful, was Valvo’s black crystal-beaded slip with a cowlneck and low back.
Cynthia Rowley: Rowley’s shows are always an event, and this time the fete was at the grand ballroom at the New Yorker Hotel. Beneath a shimmering disco ball, the performance began with a couple enjoying a ballroom dance, followed by a runway lineup of sweet little nothings. Tops, dresses and skirts made from vintage scarfs paired with floral cotton voile looked light as a feather, and sheer, wispy dresses in a textured fabric resembling grass, sheer embroidered pants, barely there swimsuits and micro-mini hemlines weren’t for coy little girls. But the printed cashmere sweaters, painted leathers and wooded landscape skirt seemed out of place in an otherwise breezy collection. Things lightened up again however, in the show’s blackout finale of dresses rigged with soft mini lights.
Vivienne Tam: The dragon has often appeared in Tam’s collections over the years, but this season, the creature is considerably more prominent, since 2000 is the Chinese Year of the Dragon.
According to the designer, the fire-breathing dragon represents fun, life and innovation. And for spring, she returned to what she does best: great prints, embroidery and distinctive fabrics.
Pants, tops and skirts were detailed with dragons, while khakis were decorated with bats. The web-like choker tops and a purple lace tank stood out, but a few of her techno looks were slightly off-key.
Bruce: Daphne Guitierrez and Nicole Noselli, the design duo known as Bruce, have doubled their efforts — literally.
In the past, the pair have usually shown nine or 10 outfits, but this season, they presented a full-fledged collection.
From suits to eveningwear, Guitierrez and Noselli continued in the cutting-edge vein they’re famous for. Among the strongest looks: a leather corset top and fishtail skirt, a knit tunic paired with cropped pants and a white athletic-inspired pantsuit with puckered details. The only misstep in this clean-cut collection: a fussy red crocheted dress.
Matt Nye: Making a transition isn’t always easy, and that seems particularly true for Matt Nye. In addition to designing his signature men’s collection for the past three seasons, this Calvin Klein alum and CFDA award winner launched a women’s line last year.
His spring show included looks for men and women, both with haberdashery elements and a formula of classic shapes: fitted shirts, simple gray pants and cashmere sweaters in clean V and crewnecks. But unfortunately, the collection seemed to lack a certain spark. Lots of sailor pants and last fall’s red-cross sweater aren’t enough.
Luca Luca: A show can be an important step in a company’s or designer’s career. And Luca Orlandi of Luca Luca had that in mind when he staged his first U.S. runway presentation this season.
He has two big shops on Madison Avenue, a two-year-old wholesale business and his first advertising campaign is due to break next spring, so the time seemed right.
Orlandi did a new, cool version of the tweed suit, modified with purple and lime tones and HotPants, while some of the beaded pieces were playful.
Unfortunately, there was a problem in the fit department, and some of the prints could have been fresher.
Susan Lazar: Lazar followed the road to Morocco this season, and she journeyed down the right path.
While clean sportswear is her trademark, she took a new approach to her usually simple silhouettes, and the result was cute clothes with a point of view.
The designer dressed up her basic shapes with a little embroidery here, or a touch of beading there.
She took a simple caftan, for example, and added a zipper, while a fitted coat was trimmed with mirrors and beads and a strapless linen dress got a bit of wrap action.