IN FOCUS: REBECCA MOSES

When she launched her new knitwear collection in a tiny gallery presentation last year, Rebecca Moses said she was “trying to do something from the heart, something that wasn’t so much about fashion, but about the way people live.”
That concept seems to be paying off. Just 18 months after she unveiled her simple cashmere pieces in luscious colors, sales are on the rise. Moses projects 1997 sales will increase 60 percent to $5 million (8 billion lire) from last year’s $3 million. The line is currently sold in 140 stores in 15 countries.
“I was shocked by the reaction,” said Moses, who staged her first runway show on Thursday. “Clothes that are understated aren’t always commercial — usually it’s the things that are more obvious that get the response.
“We have a vast audience,” she continued, “from young, hip models to elegant 70-year-olds, who don’t want to look like they’ve been victimized by the last fashion moment.” Bergdorf Goodman recently opened a corner boutique for Moses, and Neiman Marcus picked up the line for its Los Angeles store. And two months ago, the designer opened a New York showroom while expanding her Milan headquarters.
This season, Moses traded in the usual showroom presentation for a runway show — and that was probably an unwise move. Who needs a runway for these knits, which should be touched and seen up close to be appreciated? Moses said her collection was all about “effortless style.” That translated into strapless sweaters worn with pants, a group of long nude-colored dresses, cashmere sweatshirts over swimsuits, cashmere drawstring pants and doubled-up slip dresses in knit over satin.

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