With all the exuberance their club-loving hearts could muster — and you can bet that means plenty, sugar — Richie Rich and Traver Rains sent out another wild ride of a Heatherette collection. For these boys, playing it safe in a tough economy means finishing the edges on their disco sauvage looks and cutting their kooky cocktail dresses just long enough to be deemed decent. Camp is one of fashion’s essentials, and it’s an element that has been strikingly absent this season. But the Heatherette boys bring both their love of fashion and their surreal sexy humor to such items as a Warhol-esque Liza Minnelli-printed sweatshirt or porno cowboy boots (you have to see them to believe it). They’re even cheeky with each look’s given name — exit 42 was called “Stevie Nicks’ hallucination,” while “Tea-time road kill” was their handle for another.
Another young designer going out on a limb this season is Benjamin Cho, though his kind of cool comes from a much less hilarious but equally idiosyncratic source. A pianist accompanied his artsy presentation, which included ribbon-laced shifts and simple party dresses that puckered prettily with ribbons that gathered little cutouts, then dangled like long flower stems. Some thought it looked a little too much like the capsule collection he showed last season, while those who know and love his clothes say he always ties his collection together with ribbon.
Still, everyone’s allowed a misstep now and then. That’s true even of the girls at Bruce and Alice Roi. Daphne Gutierrez and Nicole Noselli, the design duo behind Bruce, have carved out a hip downtown niche and won the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s Perry Ellis Award last year. Their tight, 15-piece collection featured their signature pieces — beautiful draped dresses, flattering jeans-cut pants with intricate details. But the pair seemed to be trying too hard to be cool with the vertical-flag blouses and the shirts and skirts featuring knotted fabric details. Meanwhile, Roi ransacked her grandmother’s closet and pulled out all of nana’s favorites. She offered plenty of moire skirts, palazzo pants and leather-trimmed twinsets, but unfortunately also showed frumpy dresses with oversized bows at the waist.