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Each season presents an opportunity for new and developing designers to debut a line or to prove their mettle once again with follow-up collections. Travis Wells and Leila Azar-Kia of Dimmer/D’Vrsi, for example, avoided the sophomore slump by forgoing the futuristic bent of their fall collection in favor of something more down-to-earth for spring. They showed airy linen pants and jackets, well-tailored, button-down cotton shirts and pretty rose-print silk and chiffon dresses. Meanwhile, first-timer Elena Humphreys had an auspicious start with her Brilliant by Elena Humphreys collection. She sent out wonderful cowl-backed gowns, in light colors such as pink, beige and white, that featured Swarovski crystals spelling out the names of various punk bands — a detail that gave the line an edgy look.

In the Rainbow Room, self-taught, 23-year-old Holly Kristen put on the Holly Kristen Couture show, and save for a few pretty satin cocktail dresses, the collection was, for the most part, quite ill-fitting. The architecturally inspired, leather-trim dresses, for example, looked unwearable. While Kristen is imaginative, she would do well to go to design school, and leave the “couture” to the pros in Paris.

Harrison Wong, in his third New York showing, went modern and minimal, proving that attention to details can bring out the chic in simple clothes. The almost all-white lineup was sprinkled with gold and silver accents, which gave it a slightly futuristic feel, as in a small floral pattern detailing a simple tank dress.

Meanwhile, Pamella Roland appealed to mothers-of-the-bride with her sexy, second-skin silk satin halter gowns, such as her pink beaded chiffon number with feathers. But, while there were a few standout looks, like an embroidered beige suede coat and suit and a pink kimono-sleeved blouse, there really weren’t enough to merit a show.

There are those who think fashion and art are separate, but for Mary Jo Diehl, they’re one and the same. For spring, her House of Diehl collection was full of the silver-screen glamour of Old Hollywood — but with a conceptual twist. Diehl showed Bonnie Parker- and Marlene Dietrich-inspired dresses that had an Eighties edge. But Diehl may have taken too many chances with her philosophical notions (this time it was how movies relate to looking at the self), since the looks she showed were more theoretical than wearable.

This story first appeared in the September 16, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

And Kati Stern of Venexiana delivered another creative collection of fun and vampy looks for spring. The lineup consisted mostly of eveningwear that would suit both a daring city girl’s night out on the town or a Venetian masquerade ball. The collection’s highlights were the sea foam-colored pieces, such as a short leather skirt with a matching cropped jacket and a gold sequined and blue chiffon minidress, worn with a sea foam fox stole. The designer’s imagination ran particularly wild, however, with the Venetian harlequin gloves, the turquoise silk jacket that had a train and a black leather and crinoline bustier with enormous puff sleeves that were suitable only for a costume party.

Elsewhere, Naomi Campbell lit up the runway at Tamsen, where designers Sue Firestone and Mimi Wolfe sent out bright, tropical halter dresses, skirts and tops. The strongest looks in the 20-piece evening collection were the vividly printed flirty silk skirts, shown with white cotton knit tops. But, aside from those prints, the high point was the performance by the singer, Monica, that followed the show.