BILL BLASS RECEIVES A RETROSPECTIVE

Byline: Eric Wilson

NEW YORK — Bill Blass is being honored by his home state with a career retrospective at Indiana University next fall.
The designer, who announced his retirement last year, will be the subject of an exhibit within the university’s Elizabeth Sage Historic Costume Collection in Bloomington, Ind., said curator Kathleen L. Rowold.
Rowold was in New York last week working with the designer and examining his sketches, every one since 1956, she said, while reviewing the house’s fall 2000 collection — the first not designed directly by Blass — during a trunk show at Saks Fifth Avenue.
The Elizabeth Sage collection comprises 17,000 pieces, including several of Blass’s designs. The first Blass gowns to come to the collection were donated by socialite Anne Bass, another Indiana native.
“It’s a very natural connection because Mr. Blass is from Indiana, and he came out last year and met with our design students and visited our gallery space,” Rowold said.
The retrospective is scheduled to open Oct. 5, 2001, she said.
Meanwhile, the trunk show reaped sales of $1.5 million from May 8 to 12, despite Blass’s absence and a slow day on May 8, due to the funeral of John Cardinal O’Connor next door at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The fall collection was designed in-house with Blass’s approval, while Steven Slowik, who was hired to take over design in February, will show his first collection for the house with its spring 2001 line.
Among the bestsellers from fall were a gray cashmere herringbone pantsuit with a beaver collar dyed to match at $6,500, a brown corduroy double-breasted jacket paired with a subtle ribbed skirt at $5,380 and a chinchilla-trimmed charcoal pantsuit for $8,900. Cashmere looks and skirt suits in men’s wear fabrics were strong across the board.
“Day-to-evening looks were exceptionally strong,” said John Lindsey, sales director. “The interesting thing is that customers are buying a lot of interrelated pieces because they are traveling more and want everything to work together.”
For evening, Blass sold a lot of brown beaded pants at $3,750, a gray flannel suit with matching pants that were pinstriped with white crystals, a black and white diamond beaded twinset with black velvet pants at $14,800 and a red and olive tapestry suit trimmed with sable at $13,850.