THE NEW YORK BEAT
DONNA WAVES THE AMERICAN SPORTSWEAR FLAG AT DKNY…ANTI-FASHION HITS ANNE KLEIN…GIANNI AND DONATELLA GO THE HIP THRIFT-SHOP ROUTE AT VERSUS…AND MCQUEEN GETS READY TO ROCK AND SHOCK.

VERSUS: Mixed prints, amusingly awkward skirts, sweaters with big marabou collars and tight one-shoulder tops — all tossed together with a hip, thrift-store sensibility. And it looked quite good — up to a point. But too often it seemed as if the clothes had sailed over from other runways. Only at night did Gianni and Donatella Versace truly play their own hand with a lineup of steamy jersey dresses. Perhaps the problem was in the heavy-handed styling, because taken apart, these clothes have a punch often missing in diffusion lines. In any case, the Versaces are pushing this collection big-time. Later this year they may convert one of the existing Madison Ave. Versace boutiques into a Versus shop, or they’ll house the collection on its own floor in their posh new Fifth Ave. palazzo.
ANNE KLEIN: The anti-fashion air that wafted throughout the Milan collections has settled in New York, and Patrick Robinson is the first to inhale. The Anne Klein collection he showed on Wednesday couldn’t have been simpler, focusing on the kind of good-looking, basic pieces that many women love to collect and wear year-in, year-out — relaxed sweaters, gray flannels, the hint of a crisp white cuff. Although Robinson had said he was inspired by the refinement of the Twenties, a Seventies spirit came across in his sporty mood, tailoring and proportions. It also turned up in the sleek black turtlenecks that Robinson showed under almost everything, inspired by a photograph of Anne Klein. This archival reference, however, was less obvious than those to Jil Sander and Prada. While there’s plenty of merit in taking the anti-fashion movement to a larger audience, as Robinson has done, it would have been more appealing had he been able to make it more his own.

DKNY: Over the years this collection has been just about everything: grunge, career, ski, scuba, church lady and vamp. But for fall, there are no tricks, no catchy themes, no major statements. Donna Karan was happy to just send out a lineup of great-looking, approachable clothes that her customers will love. Sure there were a few thrift-shop and military references and that Seventies touch that’s all but ubiquitous to tailoring this season, but Karan didn’t make a big deal of any of them. Donna showed plenty of jackets, from short, racy doubleknits to chic, high-belted a-line jackets, often over bootleg pants. There were suedes and shearlings, relaxed suits, anti-fashion turtlenecks over skirts and the occasional oddball item — a pony-hair skirt in olive green, for example. But this aside, Karan has clearly gotten spring’s color obsession out of her system, now sticking to a more practical palette of classic neutrals and warm earth tones.
When Donna switched to a languid mode, it was with pale chiffon shirts, skirts and dresses combined with tweeds, suede or lace. And she never let the flow get out of control. The result was a collection that’s as smart and unpretentious as American sportswear should be.

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