Kate O’Connor: Talk about great knits. The bohemian gal from Pittsburgh, who made the poncho popular on both the red carpet and the streets, pulled out all the stops on Tuesday night. Metallic thread and bamboo particles woven into the hand-loomed knitted fabrics were the basis for O’Connor’s collection, which allowed each piece to drape and swing. Layering was a key element and she did it beautifully, working a short knit poncho over a cream metallic tank top and a body-hugging, knee-length skirt. There were tank dresses scooped low in front, and striped halter tops that dipped daringly in back. She also debuted her swimwear — bikinis worn under knit caftans and tunics that would fare just as well on the beaches of Cannes as they would on the California coast.
Petro Zillia: The always-optimistic Nony Tochterman presented her strong spring collection against a painted backdrop of the countryside and the clear sounds of her friends’ band, The Ditty Bops, known for its folk- and jazz-inspired music. The designer sent out crisp white and rainbow-striped sundresses, perfectly suited for lazy summer afternoons spent with a picnic basket. And her ladylike heather glen plaid suits were perked up with bright pink thread. The overly costumey effect of some of the colorful evening gowns — many of them one-offs with elaborate Ultrasuede appliqués, crocheted corsages or satin ribbon trims — was forgiveable, since Petro Zillia fans seem to prefer that sense of whimsy. One tank, for example, was embellished with the phrase, “Live, love, laugh,” and it was easy to embrace the sentiment as the band played on.
Davies: German photographer Karl Blossfeldt’s dream-like work served as the inspiration for Erica Davies’ smart spring and summer collection. She traded in the gray and moss shades she favored in previous seasons for the mint, apricot, raspberry and aqua tones found in some of Blossfeldt’s photos. Standout looks included a silk jersey tunic gathered at the hips and a black silk gauze dress with raw edges in the right places. Overall, the designer balanced the ethereal, delicate quality of the silk fabrics she used with a tough-girl sensibility in the styling and in the models’ attitudes. Emphasis on details is also a Davies signature, and she offered plenty of those in tiny metal charms on a piece of satin ribbon and smocking on sleeves. It’s too bad that Davies keeps relying on videos by her boyfriend, Clement Jolin, as part of her presentation, since they were tedious and distracted from her clothes.
Saja: For Yoo Lee’s new line Saja, the designer adopted the feminine sensibility of BCBG Max Azria, where she worked as an associate designer for two years. Using only natural fabrics, Lee opened the show with a pretty cotton eyelet tea dress, suggesting travel through Paris and Rome in the Fifties and Sixties. The flirty floral print skirts with summer-weight cardigans contrasted nicely with the handworked beaded tunics and crochet shawls — perfect loungewear for Positano or Capri. While the dominant color palette of delicate blues, greens and mauves worked well, however, the heavy jewel tones in her chiffon dresses brought the romantic getaway to an abrupt end.