On Thursday, the runways came alive with hip preppies at Christian Francis Roth, high-voltage bohemians at Todd Oldham and enough mohair to bring on a sneezing fit.
Christian Francis Roth: Co-Ed Cool
Christian Francis Roth is back to making the kind of clothes that are perfect for all those girls who’ve graduated from Spence and Chapin. Let’s just hope they didn’t graduate too long ago. Roth’s show was cute and exuberant with lots of young, spirited ideas, like ultra-short plaid kilts, puffy down parkas and little cashmere sweaters. And at $250 for a kilt and $500 for a parka, his retail prices are back in the ballpark. Roth is onto something.
Nicole Miller: Future Frock
Nicole Miller may still be design diva to the club-crawling set, but for fall, she turned down her steam a few degrees. Her skirts were short but not cheeky, and there’s wasn’t a bare breast in sight.
The main messages of this collection were a tight-bodiced silhouette with a flirty skirt, and high tech fabrics in plays of color against black. Second-skin quasar print Lycra T-shirts — equal parts Star Trek and downhill racer — went with gray flannel suits or jumpers; bright Polartec twin sets topped black metallic Lycra pleated skirts. Not one to pass up a hot trend, Miller also had her way with mohair, in oh-so-sweet sweaters over little silk skating skirts or shorts.
For evening, Nicole sang a siren song. She ditched her black crepe cocktail shakers and replaced them with gowns in raisin or gunmetal matte jersey with velvet touches.
Mark Eisen: The Spare Minimum
Mark Eisen continued on his minimal pilgrimage for fall, churning out another collection of spare suits and simple little dresses that stores like Barneys can’t get enough of. It was a pretty lackluster show, but what stood out in the sea of black and charcoal was a group of neon brights, especially the orange mohair short-skirted suit and classic trenchcoat over a ribbed dress. The unflattering makeup created by Francois Nars certainly didn’t help. With bronzed, greasy faces and blood-colored lips, models like Bridget Hall, Amber and Niki Taylor were hardly recognizable.
Todd Oldham: The New Bohemian
Finally, a fashion happening — New York style. Todd Oldham’s show on Thursday night offered the first bona fide star sightings we’ve seen here, unless you count Margot Hemingway and Ginger from Gilligan’s Island, who checked in at other collections.
Mariah Carey, Jaye Davidson, Kate Pierson and Monica Lynch turned out for Todd, as well as a sans-drag Ru Paul (he’s balding and had a little chin stubble). So what, you say? They were just the warmups. When Todd’s pal Susan Sarandon showed Julia Roberts to her seat, it caused a paparazzi flash-bulb frenzy worthy of Altman himself. Julia looked absolutely stunned, while right behind her, Ellen Barkin went virtually unnoticed.
Happily, Todd’s runway lived up to his audience. These are clothes for girls who want to be noticed, and how. But this was no Sparkle-and-Strut-Your-T & A Follies. Now, Oldham is into bohemian glamour, and he played it for all it was worth, from the snow-maiden hair jewels and 20-karat “diamond” rings right down to the satin ankle boots with multicolor gems set into Lucite heels. The supermodel roster didn’t hurt either; Todd even snagged Stephanie Seymour, who rarely steps onto the runway these days.
Oldham’s biggest points were siren dresses, prints and of course, color, color, color. He did it in red, yellow and painted plaid velvets, Lifesaver-striped cropped sweaters and bugle-beaded fair-isle pants. And in a season of fake fur, Oldham’s the biggest faker around, with gigantic “bear hug” coats that could melt the coldest heart.
Sure there was a Gaultier-ish jacket, and a nod or two to Chloe. But for the most part, it was Todd at his bohemian best.
Byron Lars: Tribal Rights
Byron Lars knows how to wake up a crowd, and this season he did it with conga drums and a collection that was intended as a fun journey through Africa. Only Byron would send pinstripes, fake furs and tweeds off to the jungle. But the over-the-top styling — huge mask handbags, braided headdresses, feathers and tribal makeup — just got in the way of his trim suits, jumper dresses and familiar draping. In fact, Lars was so lost in his African theme that the collection rambled. But what did stand out in Byron’s jungle were his dramatic fake fur coats with sweeping trains.
Rodney Telford: Short Circuit
In his first formal runway show, Rodney Telford displayed his talent for fine tailoring. He shaped long jackets with intricate seaming, pleats, precisely placed buttons and special collar details — and they were terrific. But what he paired them with — skimpy shorts cut like swimsuits and almost-indecent micros — were out of character in Telford’s pricy collection. A nice surprise were his mohairs: airy, loosely knit cropped pullovers and minidresses in a rich tweedy palette.