NEW YORK -- Stylish women don't want to give up their pencil skirts and dark denim jeans when they're pregnant, and thanks to the looks presented at Liz Lange's runway show, they don't have to.
Maternity designer Lange led off the second day of New York Fashion Week Thursday. Lange's fern-print baby doll dress and swinging coral georgette dress fit right into the soft look that Kenneth Cole, Perry Ellis and Tracy Reese previewed for spring 2005 Wednesday.
The collective palette at the rainy Bryant Park tents in midtown Manhattan Wednesday was largely muted tangerine, lime green and ocean blue, with black, white and neutrals that are meant to be the user-friendly mix-and-match pieces. Even antiestablishment label Imitation of Christ followed the relaxed trend when it came to actual garments.
Kenneth Cole opened the eight days of spring 2005 previews with his signature pop culture-laced video, including references to a certain pop star's wardrobe malfunction and Donald Trump's hit NBC reality show, "The Apprentice." But instead of making a partisan political statement, which he's done in the past, this message simply encouraged everyone to get out and vote.
"Nov. 2 is not a dress rehearsal," Cole said.
Meanwhile, his runway show offered editors, retailers and fashion fans (actor Alan Cumming among them) a leisurely look with strapless dresses with flattering vertical panels and boning, crisp motor pants with zipper details and gauzy sweaters for women, and cotton canvas suits and white jeans for men.
The women's tank-style swimsuits were so practical, they almost seemed odd at a fashion show, but the itty-bitty men's swim briefs were a reminder of why most people prefer conservative beachwear.
Patrick Robinson, designer of Perry Ellis' women's line, said he wanted to capture "the new romance" that can be found in feminine, more modest clothes. It looked like he used the Victorian era for inspiration when he created a cream satin brocade pinched-waist jacket over a white dress with flowing ruffles and a light green cummerbund.
"After wearing tweed and camel hair all winter, I wanted to offer women something light, delicate and pretty," he told The Associated Press.
Robinson said that as he was putting the collection together, he noticed there were very few prints, but instead of adding bold or geometric patterns that would work against his theme, he opted for textured brocade and jacquard fabrics to add richness to the garments.
While the designer used feminine ruffles, flower appliques and bows, he kept the overall look from becoming too fussy as the details were mostly on short jackets that didn't overwhelm the outfits.
Jerry Kaye, Perry Ellis' menswear designer, took a more country-club approach as he put models in peak-lapel suits in navy with pique button-down shirts, and white trousers and jeans with lime-and-navy V-neck sweaters.
Designer Tracy Reese concentrated on spring coats with open collars and swinging hems, and dresses perfect for cocktails in the garden. Her prints had names such as "garden of Eden" and "weeping willow," and her "peacock" print was just that: a stunning fan of blue, green and some black.
She offered one unusual silhouette, something she called a "cummerbund cami," essentially a tank top with a high-waisted belt and a panel that hung in front from the waist to the bottom of the shirt.
The most wearable pieces from Imitation of Christ were cotton T-shirt versions of Greek goddess dresses, worn with warrior-style sandals that are part of IOC designer Tara Subkoff's new line for Easy Spirit. Some dresses had rope-style belts that made a nice touch.
However, the runway show, which included a George Bush imitator in the audience, attracted Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gretchen Mol and Subkoff's pal Chloe Sevigny, seemed endless, and the finale was a disappointing parade of sour-faced models stomping out of the venue and an even grimmer looking Subkoff following them.
Imitation of Christ couldn't pass up a chance to make a political statement to such a large audience - the presentation began with male models in military-style garments marching in almost complete darkness in front of pictures of the war in Iraq.
Fashion Week continues with shows still to come from Carolina Herrera, Bill Blass, and Tommy Hilfiger.
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