URBAN ROMANCE, ART DECO REVIVAL, TOUGH LEATHERS AND GOING FOR BAROQUE
ATSURO TAYAMA DID POETIC URBAN LOOKS, WHILE YVAN MISPELAERE REPRISED AN ART DECO MOTIF FOR LOUIS FERAUD, CLAUDE MONTANA DID SEXY LEATHERS AND GLAM FURS, AND VIVIENNE WESTWOOD HAD A BAROQUE LOOK THIS SEASON.

Atsuro Tayama: There’s nothing wrong with dumping the old artsy schtick. That’s what Atsuro Tayama has done, and he’s right on time. His collection was full of the urban basics, including the little black jackets that have surpassed even the little black dress in their overwhelming popularity this season. Tayama’s jackets ran the gamut from a hooded wool version, worn with a matching pleated mini, to a slick number in leather with a curved lapel.
But while he did away with craftsy flourishes, that doesn’t mean Tayama sapped the poetry from his work. On the contrary, his gauzy peasant blouses were pure romance and those of a more gothic bent, with stiffened stitched bibs, approached the prevalent Victoriana look from a new angle. It’s great to see that Tayama isn’t merely following the fall trends, he’s also setting a few of his own.

Louis Feraud: For his first ready-to-wear collection at Feraud, Yvan Mispelaere reprised the whimsically deconstructed Art Deco style that he premiered with his couture effort, though for fall, he took a more innocent and more quirky approach. Lace blouses were sent from the third dimension on to the fourth with gigantic geodesic-diamond, pleated puffed sleeves, while a navy velvet blazer was cut with slightly less exaggerated puffs and paired with dotted tuxedo pants.
Clearly, Mispelaere knows how to do cute. He sweetened his adorable dotted Swiss tulle top with an embroidered Peter Pan collar and sent out a nursery-full of baby doll dresses, in evergreen velvet with a ribbon belt or in black chiffon, that were 2 cute 2 B true.
Easter coats in green velvet and in pink leather also made for good eye candy, but sometimes Mispelaere’s confections bordered on the bizarre. Could it be that the young man is trying too hard to impress? He cut the armpits out of a perfectly nice coat, then trimmed the holes with green piping. Still, Mispelaere’s got plenty of talent, loads of ideas and a style all his own. Once the designer hits his stride, he could make the Feraud collection into something truly unique.

Claude Montana: Whatever the Claude Montana collection should be, whatever it could be or once was, for fall, the designer stuck to stuff he knows well — sexy leathers and glamorous furs. A one-shouldered leather gown and a black leather dress cut like a motorcycle jacket should be a lesson to any and all designers who might make an attempt at Tough Chic. A puffed-up chubby fur coat was the image of brazen seduction. (This was not the case with one coat that was decorated by an animal’s smushed snout where a belt buckle should be.) Other pieces that worked — a cowl-hooded coat, belted and cut to full volume, a shearling coat with spiraling sleeves and a nubby sweater with slit sleeves.
But it wasn’t a blockbuster. Montana’s less-successful looks included a navy velvet suit and a pack of knits that, while perfectly well done, could have been designed by anyone. Surely, the designer’s retailers and fans alike look to the collection for one thing only: Montana’s signature.

Vivienne Westwood : Her pirate, Appalachian and New Romantic styles from the early Eighties have had a huge influence on other designers this season, and have sent stylists searching high and low for Vivienne Westwood originals. In fact, during a recent exhibit of her Seventies punk work in New York, plum pieces were snatched outright by overly enthusiastic fans. While those older styles may be been-there-done-that for Westwood herself, this time around, one couldn’t help but to hope that she’d do a reprise for fall. She didn’t.
The collection she showed was a fine effort, with draped suits in curvy, baroque shapes, a troop of tarty minis, and even a great version of the buckled gladiator boot that everyone else has copied. But Westwood also sent out a whole mess of tiger-striped dresses, suits, knits, gowns and even fake tiger heads worn as hats. These didn’t have the spark her archival work does, though the two taffeta ballgowns, puffed from below by miles of tulle, reminded the audience of all the wonderful things she can do .

Romeo Gigli: If he would have stuck to the trends, it would have been fine. But, mixing tulle and tweed and adding tricky details, Romeo Gigli lost his focus. Still, he cashed in on this season’s prevalent masculine-feminine theme, and the Gigli devotee will find plenty to wear, including his plaid or pinstriped, washed-wool tailored pantsuits. On a more romantic note, he also did transparent, flowing georgette gowns.

Ronald van der Kemp: It’s not easy to find a pretty, yet modern, cocktail dress. So, in his third season, Ronald van der Kemp cut a fetching version with a touch of Twenties romance. His silk jersey dresses, ruched slightly at the waist and plunging at the neck, were graceful and attractive. Mostly in black, with a few pieces in royal blue or turquoise, the intimate 50-piece collection – presented in van der Kemp’s Right Bank studio on Friday — also featured coats with delicate closures, soft blouses hand-painted with small butterfly designs, and skirts with asymmetrical hems.

Ritu Beri: In her second Paris runway effort, Dehli-based designer Ritu Beri set out to show her rock ‘n’ roll soul, parking a flame-decorated Harley beside the catwalk and sending out sexy, revved-up looks one could easily see worn by the likes of Destiny’s Child or Christina Aguilera. Beri, who is backed by former Chloe president Mounir Moufarrige, has a young spirit, couture tastes and access to skilled factories and hand-sewers in India. These ingredients make for an intriguing combination. Some of Beri’s looks — leather hot pants and barely-there handkerchief dresses — should be handled with care, even by pop divas. But she showed real promise with upscale denim looks — dressy jackets and jeans decorated with metallic threads — and nicely tailored leather pieces. You don’t have to be up for a Grammy to wear those.