PHOTOS BY JOHN AQUINO, GEORGE CHINSEE, GIOVANNI GIANNONI, THOMAS IANNACCONE AND ROBERT MITRA
NEW YORK — There was plenty of eveningwear in evidence during Fashion Week — from utterly simple to sleekly tailored to highly experimental.
Rubin Chapelle designers Kim Chapelle and Sonja Rubin were in the last camp. The pair, known for their architecturally angled, quirky sportswear, wanted to explore new ground this season, and the result was a line of eveningwear that mirrored their rather intellectual sportswear. “We wanted to make intelligently sexy clothes,” Chapelle said. The results were amazing, tour de force cuts in a variety of colors, textures and lengths. Some of the looks almost defied description: a slouchy, asymmetrically wrapped black silk dress with one sleeve and chains across the torso; a pants dress, open at the sides to reveal fluid white chiffon. Then there was the side-slit, plunge-necked, black silk kimono with elbow-length puffed sleeves and a sporran. But some — such as an asymmetric silk dress that was floor-length in front and derriere-high in back — just didn’t cut it.
Shelly Steffee’s show at her boutique in the Meatpacking District wasn’t well-attended, which was unfortunate since she showed glamorous, intricately detailed chiffon evening numbers, beautifully tailored jackets and plenty of playful asymmetric tops.
Meanwhile, Ron Leal, who designs for Pamella Roland, kept things understated for spring, featuring some nice evening pieces. Take, for example, the sexy, second-skin pale blue satin skirt paired with a tight little white sweater and the flirty, flouncy satin khaki version shown with a blue top. The dresses and tops in loud yellow and blue prints, however, didn’t work.
Jackie Rogers, who has a loyal following for her signature sexy silk suits and dresses, added denim to the equation this season. It worked best in the form of a short, satin-trimmed jacket over a printed sarong. In fact, her strongest looks were her jackets and shirts, such as a dramatically cut shirt in white Gazar and the pintucked black silk blouse. There were some great dresses, too: a black stretch crepe, shoulder-tied gown and the fuchsia laser-cut, two-piece dance number. Rogers sums up her design philosophy by saying, “I don’t believe in fashion, I believe in style.” This, however, wasn’t a collection that really warranted a fashion show.
Elsewhere, Yael Aflalo, known for creating slim jeans for Ya-Ya, stayed true to her reputation in her first New York presentation. The L.A.-based designer showed pieces that were slinky and sexy, with the pants the strongest looks. There were lean ones and cropped styles that were ruched and cinched at the ankles. Shorts were also prominent, shown in a variety of lengths, from rolled bermudas to tiny HotPants with pleated pockets. Aflalo also used fine-gauge knits for narrow, plunge-necked tops. Unfortunately, while the pants were utterly wearable, the revealing tops weren’t.
Slava featured retro-infused looks that suggested Sophia Loren and Brigitte Bardot in their heydays — high-waisted skirts and HotPants that emphasized the hips and derriere. The more streamlined shapes were flattering and full of old-time glamour. The others — especially the costumey pouf skirts and the apron-print dresses — didn’t work. Paula Hian, for her part, continued to refine her collection with simplicity and charm. Her strapless white and black minidresses with cutout details and her little tops in bright colors were cute, sexy and simple. Cordero’s little jersey dresses were also straightforward — and sexy, especially the short white draped V-front dress. For her New York debut, French designer Anne Valerie Hash presented Degas-inspired numbers, as evidenced in her rose-colored silk tulle dresses.
Finally, Hanuk, who freelanced for Narciso Rodriguez and designed handbags under his own label, showed a designer-priced capsule collection of separates. Working almost exclusively in black, using broadcloth and poplin, he did great minimalist looks such as strapless dresses, cap-sleeved jackets and drawstring shorts. And, in a nearly blacked-out Lower East Side theater, Shenan sent out a nice assortment of tie-dyed T-shirts and railroad- and chevron-striped pants and dresses. Standouts included a kelly green canvas trenchcoat and a laced-front, tie-dyed romper.