NEW YORK ANNA’S HIP HEAVEN…MIU MIU’S N… 04-07-9504-07-95
ANNA’S HIP HEAVEN…MIU MIU’S NAUGHTY BUT NICE…AN OSCAR WINNER…AND DASHING BILL BLASS.
Anna Sui: Anna Sui’s runway is always hip heaven. She seems to live and breathe for the trends of the moment, and knows how to ferret them out, stake her claim and offer them up with a brashness that’s second to none.
There are Modsters on nearly every runway, but Anna’s win for attitude. And while so many other designers have toyed with a type of Dowdy Chic that only half makes it, Anna turned those Mumish proportions into something really cool.
But her biggest asset is her smarts. Beneath all that trendiness — all the leather and the hip-huggers and the smocked granny dresses — Sui knows how to serve up a savvy bill of goods. For fall, she did it with the most wearable collection she’s ever shown. With tight suits dominating other runways, Anna loosened her silhouette, sending out relaxed tweed jackets over pleated skirts, or for a little extra edge, roomy, lived-in shearling suits that were something of a cross between Mad Max and St. Francis of Assisi. She turned pinstripes into a Mod rocker’s delight, complete with patent guitar cases, and revved up basic jackets and car coats in everything from electric blue suede to bright green herringbone.
In this age of Sixties retro, Anna also borrowed from a more recent era — last year. She took a lot of the things we all thought we were sick of — fake fur and crocodile, rubber, vinyl, even tired old shine — and made us think we need more.
Miu Miu: Miuccia Prada’s Miu Miu collection was ostensibly an ode to the bad girl, a naughty number caught in various modes of questionable behavior — at school, shopping, on the slopes. But the Miu Miu heroine is really a closet nerd; she may aspire to wanton ways, yet just can’t shake her underlying sweetness. Despite her tramped-up hair and bare legs, this girl is inescapably pretty. She has a preference for soft pastels and gentle shapes, many of which we saw in Miu Miu’s spring collection — knee-length wrap skirts, lace-edged slips, pale cropped tops. For winter, she also loves snug, pointelle sweaters, and has uncovered a stash of vintage-looking wool and fake fur coats that seem to hail from a more petite generation — the sleeves are short, the waists high. In her bolder moments, she fancies herself a citified ski bunny, in sleek, stretchy jackets over ankle-clearing pants worked in a decidedly non-bunny palette — brown, beige, a touch of red. But before long, this faux-bad girl is back in princess mode, in pastel nylon redingotes trimmed in mum’s soft fake fur.
Bill Blass: Was it his best collection ever? No, but there was still enough good news at Bill Blass to keep his loyal Ladies decked out in the chic style they demand. Blass has been on a high for the last year. His collection business is sizzling at retail, and he recently launched a well-priced sportswear collection, Bill Blass USA, that will make his snappy style accessible to more women. In a season when “low-key” has infiltrated all sorts of unlikely corners, expectations were high — too high — for Bill, New York’s original dash-without-silly-editorial-flash man.
Blass opened his show with a group of smart fitted looks. There were lean, jaunty suits and tight dresses under short coats that came in hunting checks and sporty plaids. And since the Blass Lady wants to look smart, from her well-coiffed hair right down to her manageable hemline, don’t look for any awkward lengths from Bill. He cut his skirts politely, but well above the knee. Less understandable, however, was his fascination with the hips, especially in jackets with hip godets in contrasting fabrics.
That same obsession worked better at night, in charmeuse siren dresses with diamond-shaped satin insets in the middle. But his whole white charmeuse-black velvet routine was a stab at high drama that just didn’t work.
Oscar de la Renta: All those Park Avenue Ladies can finally stop fretting. There is life beyond Prada and low-key Dowdy Chic, and it’s called glamour with a capital O. That old de la Renta fire and spice — which had been hibernating for the past few seasons — is finally awake. And so was his audience of loyal fans and retailers, who crave pretty, colorful clothes that will sell.
Sure, there was an obligatory nod to Conservative Chic with his lean black-and-white tweed suits, belted knit sheaths and gray windowpane check coat-and-dress pairings. But when Oscar is on — and he is on this season — you can bet he delivers more than that. For starters, there was color — bright and blazing orange, hot pink, red and green — in zipped-up wool suits and dresses for day, in satin pants topped with cashmere sweaters perfect for weekend dinners in the country. And how about a good dollop of fur trim to add oomph to belted mohair coats, or a heavy dose of beads to turn classic tweeds into cocktail sparklers?
For evening, Oscar’s Ladies can take the CC route with simple fitted black satin suits or a great tuxedo with a tie-front jacket. And for big black-tie nights, de la Renta has them slithering in strapless velvets and lace, swirling in embroidered tulle dance dresses or floating in feathers. It isn’t for everyone — but then, Oscar never was.