AT ANNE KLEIN, IT’S SEXY SATINS AND SHAPELY SUITS; CAROLINA HERRERA POURS ON THE GLAMOUR, AND MADAME GRES IS EVERYWHERE.
Anne Klein: Richard Tyler is making the right moves at Anne Klein. The collection he showed Monday was filled with just the kind of clothes this house should be making in 1995. It started with some steam — a flourish of skimpy, shrunken polo shirts over skintight jeans, jodphurs and New-Length skirts, in mixes of gentle, satiny pastels. But, of course, what everyone really expects from Tyler is great suits, and he didn’t disappoint. They came in satins, brocades, sharkskin, tweeds — you name it. And there was just as much variety in the silhouettes. Richard has clearly caught the trans-Atlantic wave that favors knee-length straight skirts, and that’s what dominated. But he’s no slave to a trend, and there were also some options for ladies who like to show their legs. While most of the jackets were cut with the curves Tyler’s known for, he stayed away from overt Forties’ fare, and even sent out a relaxed jacket or two.
Like many others this season, Richard jumped right into jersey — silk and rayon. It worked beautifully for his polo and shirtdresses sporting skinny little belts, and in a terrific little yellow disco dress. But Tyler just didn’t know when to call it quits. His finale was nothing short of bizarre — it looked like a tribute to Stephen Burrows, Prada and Missoni, all thrown together.
Carolina Herrera: It was a collection that shouted glamour, but without even a murmur of the retro stuff that’s taken hold of the fashion world. Carolina is more interested in the flirty and alluring, which she — and her ladies — understand so well. In this season of shape, she’s stitched a lot more fit than usual into her sheaths and princess dresses, which came in a slew of pretty pastels. Her curvy suits were seamed to hug the midriff, and her cropped sweater sets riding over pleated skirts were utterly of-the-moment. But everyone knows Carolina shines at night, and on Monday she did just that. Madame Grés was definitely in the air with a series of draped silk jerseys in eye-popping brights, and her white crepe evening suits were positively drop-dead. And if you want color, Carolina’s got gallons of it. She ended her show with a few dozen numbers in marigold and poppy that, while a bit overwhelming, had one retailer saying they’d make great windows.
Gres Gardens: The New York runways are full of Madame Gres-inspired jersey dresses, obviously prompted by the remarkable Grés retrospective currently at the Met’s Costume Institute. The Grés influence was also clearly visible in Europe. Last month, however, WWD reported that Madame Grés herself had all but disappeared and was reportedly languishing in a nursing home somewhere in the South of France. But now she has resurfaced in a letter dictated to her daughter Anne and sent to this newspaper.
The Costume Institute show has won raves from the likes of Yves Saint Laurent, and Grés says, “Coming from an artist and colleague whom I admire…I’m greatly touched. Fashion today sometimes seems to laugh at itself, but that’s part of how it’s changing with time. It doesn’t take itself as seriously as it used to, but, after all, isn’t that what fashion’s all about?
“I remember that simple but very powerful moment when, alone in front of a bare stockman, pins and scissors in hand, I cut the fabric for the first model of what would be a new collection. This gesture, performed every time with joy but also emotion and anguish, because of its importance, because so much depended on it, still haunts me.”
Mark Eisen: New Length? Joan Crawford? Not at Mark Eisen. He seems to be sticking with the course he charted last season, which has more to do with the sensibility of Helmut Lang than of John Galliano.
While the collection Eisen showed Monday lacked spark, it had some good-looking clothes. There were a few key ideas at work: cleanly tailored jackets, skirts and pants, some of which rode on the hip, and feminine little dresses and skirts. Bridging both was the bandeau, which Mark put under jackets or over Ts and dresses.
Mark is fascinated by fabric technology. He used laminated chiffon, resin-coated linen and sparkly rayon crepe. And he showed that crinkled paper isn’t just for ballgowns, sending out a hip jacket and skirt.
Yeohlee: The fabrics are gorgeous, the clothes are beautifully made, and Yeohlee’s show should have been a sure-fire hit. There were, for example, fluid knee-length dresses in aquamarine silk, elegant black satin gowns, and a knockout navy silk and wool shirtjacket, worn with an A-line skirt. But some of her other suits looked downright dreary with oddly proportioned jackets and clunky, old-lady shoes. And what was she thinking of when she sent out those peculiar New-Length shorts?
Danny, Fashion Boy: Danny Aiello apparently didn’t get enough fashion under his belt when he filmed “Prêt-à-Porter” last season. Aiello turned up for the Marc Eisen show on Monday, he said, to support “fellow actor” Georgianna Robertson, a model who was on Eisen’s runway but who also appears in the film. But Danny won’t be front row at any other collections this season; he’s busy filming “City Hall.” “I’m working with Al — Al Pacino,” he said. Also in the cast: John Cusack and Bridget Fonda.
Randy Kemper: Kemper is going for sex appeal this season, and, in the process, he’s given his collection a welcome facelift. He turned up the heat on his ladies-who-lunch suits, putting bra tops and super-short skirts under little fitted jackets. He also keyed into the Forties trend with knee-length skirts and dresses, narrow pants and jackets, all cinched with narrow patent belts. There was color everywhere, from sherbet pastels to Day-Glo brights, offset by white and black.
Basco: It could have been a lot of fun — the invitations, after all, promised fried clams and ice cream at Howard Johnson’s in Times Square. But part of the audience had to stand in the cramped bar area, while others sat at booths feasting on french fries. As for the clothes, designer Lance Karesh followed the retro pack, sending out demure Forties’ looks such as knee-length skirts paired with polo sweaters, linen and knit shift dresses worn with matching jackets, along with linen trouser suits. These are good basics, but they’re not show clothes.