Badgley Mischka: You can always count on Mark Badgley and James Mischka for gloriously beaded evening gowns. And this season, there were vibrant bursts of color, new intricate and beautiful beading and even a smattering of sporty evening pieces — beaded tops paired with sexy matte sequin skirts or long organza dance skirts with sequin tanks. And the short, prom-inspired dresses in taffeta or organza with spare beaded touches were certainly fresh for these gown-loving guys. But now one longs for more. Maybe more gowns in the vintage spirit of this season’s knockout lilac-print chiffon gown. Badgley and Mischka have talent and imagination to spare. Perhaps it’s time for them to try something entirely new to rock the night scene.
Ellen Tracy: They haven’t been in business for 50 years for nothing. Designer Linda Allard and the company have managed to survive the turmoil in the bridge market, and have recently started a web site, complete with newsletters and video clips of the spring show. Meanwhile, Allard seems intent on keeping her customers looking and feeling young, so this season, she skipped her trademark suits in favor of simple, sporty pieces. Cropped looks were everywhere, in the form of T-shirts, jackets and especially pants. Colors included red, jade, tangerine and lemon, with no black in sight. But as wonderful as such looks as her mini-floral-print cropped pants and T-shirt are, Allard would have fared better if she had applied her abbreviating talents to the length of her show.
Yeohlee: There’s much to be said about good-looking, beautifully cut clothes in neutral colors. But no matter how much calm they exude or how important their niche is to retailers, they’re simply not exciting enough to show on a runway. That aside, Yeohlee’s presentation offered some terrific stark canvas jackets and simple full pants in sturdy white cotton. Things got a bit livelier when those trousers showed up in gold metallic silk and the jackets in navy paper poplin. Her best looks of all, however, were the translucent navy raincoats and the tailored, zip-front silk shirts in gold chiffon or khaki georgette.
Bottega Veneta: It’s ciao, Milano and hello, New York — for the time being, anyway. After only two years of doing ready-to-wear, the company is gearing up to wholesale the collection in the U.S. So president and creative director Laura Moteldo and designer Edward Buchanan had their first show here at the Matthew Marks gallery in Chelsea. The young social set was there in force: Marie-Chantal of Greece and her sister Pia Getty; Lulu de Kwiatkowski and her brother Stephan; Brooke de Ocampo, and Lauren Dupont. Even Cornelia Guest showed.
Patterns and textures were a hallmark of the collection, with mini leopard patterns appearing on such pieces as a belted calfskin dress. Bottega’s signature woven pattern turned up in the form of great-looking denim skirts and pants. Some of the other handworked pieces, however, didn’t fare as well, and many of the embroidered pieces, including full skirts and belted jackets, bordered on the dowdy.
Han Feng: Carefully crafted and artfully colored — that was the story at Han Feng. While there were plenty of her familiar loose-fitting silhouettes and pleated skirts, it was the newer shapes that worked best. A red kimono-style silk wrap skirt was terrific, along with strapless asymmetric dresses and a blue layered organza wrap dress in the finale. But all that smocked organza was awkward and ill-fitting, and the silk tops paired with pleated organza wraps were just too much.
Chaiken: With the Chaiken & Capone split finally complete, Julie Chaiken, president and owner of the company, decided to make a fresh start this season — not just with the name change, but with the look of the collection. Along with designer Jeff Mahshie, Chaiken illustrated the idea that something old can be new again. The pair revived some fond memories of the Seventies, with leather gym shorts, tight varsity sweaters, bright short overalls and Jennifer Beals-style sweatshirts. There were plenty of fun-to-wear pieces, but when it came to evening, they were out of their element.
Rebecca Taylor: Rebecca Taylor showed that she isn’t all sugar and spice and everything nice. In fact, there was a bit of tough girl attitude in her spring collection, and it worked to her advantage. But that doesn’t mean she completely abandoned her signature sweetness. Instead, she rolled good girl and bad girl into one: Sexy leather jeans were paired with ruffle-trimmed tops; a suede eyelet skirt went with a beaded T-shirt, and a leather bomber jacket topped a paillette-trimmed skirt. Even her famous cat print T-shirts had a fresh look this season.