SWEET AND TART

Nanette Lepore: With a lingerie-inspired spring collection, this could be Nanette Lepore’s strongest season yet. The show, which she called “Book of Dreams,” was a study in romance and femininity with a mix of ribboned and lace Victorian blouses, a playful dotted nightie and sexy micro-mini shorts. At times, however, she went a little overboard with looks that didn’t fit the overall mood — the woodgrain prints, for example, and upholstery-striped pillowcase numbers.
Ghost: After showing in London for the past two years, designer Tanya Sarne was back on the New York runways. And the timing couldn’t have been better, since Sarne opened a big store in L.A. last year and is hoping to open a shop here.
Her presentation of romantic Victorian looks with an edge came off without a hitch. There were ruched and ruffled tops over flat-front pants, full-skirted dresses with eyelet borders, and floral pieces with sexy keyhole cutouts or extended armholes.
Jackie Rogers: It was a little of this, a little of that at Rogers, with some strong signature pieces in between. Looks ran the gamut from silk shorts and beaded tops to a strapless jumpsuit. What stood out were the ombred pink-to-red silk chiffon slipdress, a slender, nude-toned draped gown and a beautiful black silk gazar strapless — all offering a breather from the season’s beaded blitz.
Girbaud: Marithe and Francois Girbaud have a vision of the future and they’re sticking to it. Their spring collection featured plenty of their usual intricate, complicated sportswear. Details and shapes carried over from past seasons included outside pockets, zippers, pull-cords, ruching and the “box” shape, an angular full skirt. The news this time was the refreshing use of color, from pastel pinks and purples to brighter primaries. There is no doubt that this is a highly creative design duo — after all, this is the team who invented stonewash — but maybe they should remember this next season: Restraint is a virtue.
Vivienne Westwood Red Label: Vivienne Westwood has always taken a tongue-in-cheek approach to fashion, and this season is no exception.
For her diffusion line, Red Label, Westwood stayed true to her eclectic roots, and showed a mini fashion history lesson that covered the Forties, Fifties and Eighties. Her homage to the last was heavy on spandex, with sheer knits layered over bandeaux and leggings. The Forties gal was decked out in sundresses, halters and capris — done up in an oversized check — for day, and satin gowns for evening. The Fifties look was more subtle, with classic flat-front skirts, men’s shirts and cardigans.
But some of Westwood’s trademark outrageousness backfired this season. Her bustier looks, for instance, were ill-fitting and unflattering.
Roxy by Quiksilver: This season’s Roxy by Quiksilver show began with a five-minute flick on the Roxy girl lifestyle, to the tune of “It’s a Living Thing” by Electric Light Orchestra. That meant images of the quintessential sun-bleached blond hanging with her buds, surfing and generally having fun in the sun. Everyone designs for someone, and the surfer girl is Roxy’s muse of choice.
The clothes always strike the right balance between Seventies items, like gauze tops, and more recent arrivals, like ripstop nylon capris. And, of course, there were bikinis in vintage Hawaiian prints, a staple here, many of them in unexpectedly fresh patterns this season.
Other standouts: cute, tube-style sundresses; an orange, blue and white wrap sweater, and interesting denim pieces such as a cropped, frayed white vest. But awkward layering sometimes made things just a little too cluttered.
Tuleh: Winning the CFDA’s Perry Ellis Award for new design talent clearly sent the message to Tuleh designers Josh Patner and Brian Bradley that they were doing something right. This season, however, they weren’t.
They clung to last season’s winning formula of whimsical florals, ruffles and plaids, all mixed together, leaving little room for new ideas. Let’s hope that next time, they’ll take some risks.