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Arthur Mendonça: For his terrific spring collection, Arthur Mendonça, a 28-year-old Toronto-based designer, was inspired by the long, sunny afternoons in Greece. Certainly his group of steel and yellow slinky jersey dresses, artfully cut with twisted waist details, evoked modern goddesses, while his peasant-styled dresses, full flirty skirts and sheer sweaters were perfect for lounging at a Mediterranean cafe. The designer also rolled out plenty of strikingly smart, sexy pieces for the young city woman. His jackets, for example, had structured shoulders, but the soft cotton fabric gave the effect of polished nonchalance. Mendonça’s two-year-old line currently sells at Holt Renfrew back home and at Fischer & Co. in London.

Kevan Hall: After a one-season hiatus from the runway, Kevan Hall returned with a strong spring collection. Glamour was the word here, as the designer referenced Millicent Rogers with his classic belted shirtdress complemented by Verdura jewelry. But there was also a heavy dose of Rita Hayworth in his kiwi Grecian gown and a mango-and-watermelon Empire dress. Other looks were inspired by classic American sportswear, such as his gown with a cashmere top and silk skirt and his multicolored striped blouse paired with an iridescent aqua skirt. Altogether, the collection looked fresher than in previous seasons, thanks to a lighter hand in the cuts and colors. Hall has yet to become a red-carpet favorite, but stylists and their A-list clients ought to take note. Laurence Fishburne and Alfre Woodard, who were sitting in the front row, already have.

Linda Loudermilk: Linda Loudermilk has been showing her “eco luxury” collection, made from environmentally friendly materials such as bamboo and organic cotton, for the past two seasons. The Atlanta-born designer, who recently moved to Los Angeles after four years in Paris, presented her first formal American show on Sunday. For spring, Loudermilk revealed an obsession with birds, illustrated by the rainbow-hued chiffon prints and the oversized appliqués on the back of neatly tailored, shrunken jackets. But her best looks were the simplest ones — drainpipe trousers with a peacock appliqué down one leg, or a T-shirt with tulle trim and insets. Where Loudermilk ran into serious trouble, however, was when she tried too hard, as with the tie-dye tulle skirt with its complicated curvy-edged waistband. The designer plans to open her first store on Melrose Place in February, complete with solar panels and an adobe floor.

This story first appeared in the October 27, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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