Ellen Tracy: Designer Linda Allard may have a new consultant this season — Karen Harman, formerly of Burns and Dana Buchman — but she’s still delivering that solid, sure-fire style that has made Ellen Tracy a commercial powerhouse. Clothes that are correct, easy to wear and make a woman feel attractive. Just what Allard’s devotees really expect — and want — season after season.
Like her fall collection, the presentation was no-fuss, too, shown intimately on mannequins in the showroom. There were plenty of easy, doublefaced wool jackets sans closures, terrific pinstriped coats and pants and, for a little spice, leather jackets over bright turtlenecks and skirts. The sportier fare included a cool suede shirtjacket and skirt, great trapeze raincoats — one lined in fake fur — and a creamy shearling jacket.
While Allard’s specialty is the nine-to-five wardrobe, she also came up with some smart evening looks this season, especially an elegant black tank over a lace-hemmed full skirt and a long V-neck sweaterdress. In a friskier mood, there were quilted bustiers, cashmere ballet tops and a pleated lace skirt. And Allard dug deep into the company’s roots with a slew of fantastic blouses.
Cynthia Steffe: Flamenco, anyone? So what if she’s a little behind the times — Spanish themes were big news last season. Cynthia Steffe picked up where everyone else left off, and she went for broke. She opened the show with a male flamenco dancer stomping away, and then let loose with a bevy of looks she called “saucy senoritas.” Out came romantic lace tops, delicate crocheted sweaters, tiered and ruffled cha-cha skirts and steamy bustier dresses. She added a touch of luxe to the line, too, with mink and fox-trimmed knits, shearling jackets, vests and a hooded coat. Though the collection veered off-course at times — with leopard- and tiger-print tops and matador jackets that were too costumey — Steffe worked the Latin angle in a wearable way.
Imitation of Christ: “I’m happy to answer any questions about this building, eBay — anything,” auctioneer Benjamin Dollar said, entertaining the crowd at Sotheby’s York Avenue headquarters before Imitation of Christ’s mock auction began on Sunday afternoon. “Just not the Department of Justice.” But fashionistas had a few gossipy bits of their own to ponder while they waited. Rumors on both coasts intimate that IOC’s dynamic designing duo, Tara Subkoff and Matt Damhave, are: (A) shutting down their fashion line altogether, (B) busting up their partnership or (C) actually going to make something less expensive, that the retailers who support them can sell easily.
After models in their gorgeous, intricate gowns posed in the auction house’s rotating display while fans like Isabella Blow gleefully flapped their paddles in the air to up the mock bids, Subkoff took a bow with Marcella Mullins, one of the designers under the collective’s umbrella. It seems that Damhave, who according to a spokeswoman couldn’t attend the show due to illness, plans to focus on IOC’s upcoming art projects, including a battery of videos commissioned by Ian Schrager for his hotels, while Subkoff will concentrate on the fashion collection. As for rumor C, while plans are in the works to put out a series of limited-edition, less-expensive pieces to accompany IOC’s stunningly recrafted vintage pieces, retailers will have to wait awhile for those goods. And so far, they seem content to do just that. “I thought that the show was so well executed and had a maturity that was refreshing,” said Julie Gilhart, vice president of fashion merchandising at Barneys New York. “But this is Imitation of Christ couture. Overall, they have such great style. You just want to make it more accessible.”
Catherine Malandrino: Yippee-yi-o-ki-yay! She may hail from France, but in her fall collection, Catherine Malandrino captured the spirit of the Old West — or should we say the New West. Not one for the traditional runway setup, Malandrino chose to show in a shell of a building in the meatpacking district, complete with exposed brick and wooden beams. The rough-and-rustic setting was in keeping with her tongue-in-cheek approach to the chosen theme: sweaters branded with “Wanted” and pants decoratively stitched like cowboy boots.
The designer has just launched a 50-piece collection of luxe, one-of-a-kind separates called Catherine Malandrino Limited Edition — retail prices range from $1,000 to $2,500 — and she mixed these pieces together with her ready-to-wear. Her little fillies looked great in six-ply cashmere sweaters and beautiful pleated blouses from the luxe line.
But Malandrino went a little overboard with her signature ruching, which turned up on tricky-looking pants. As for the sweater resembling a tumbleweed — well, that should have been left home on the range.
Pierrot: Once upon a time Pierre Carrilero was a young French lad who dreamed of living in New York and making beautiful clothes. Judging by his fall Pierrot presentation, his wish was granted. After starting at Gen Art — the fairy godmother of many young designers — he’s now in his third season on his own. This time he had a fairy-tale theme and an elaborate Candyland-like set.
Carrilero transformed his knits into puff-sleeved sweaters, flared minis and all sorts of capes. There were also plenty of berets, scarves and a new addition, skinny wool knickers. Fine-gauge sweaters featured storybook scenes, including a fisherman version with a Little Miss Muffet motif. There were also non-thematic pieces such as knee- or floor-length A-line skirts, maxi sweaters and belted sweaterdresses. But after awhile, the story repeated itself. How many knit capes, sweaters and skirts can any girl own?