NEW YORK - Spring arrived on Seventh Avenue this week in a flurry of pretty colors, cheerful prints and gentle shapes.
Bill Blass, as usual, staged the first big show of the season at the Hotel Pierre, attended by socialites as well as retailers and the press.
Carolina Herrera flanked the Blass noontime show with smaller presentations before and after in her showroom. In the afternoon Arnold Scaasi was among the first to show at the Hotel Macklowe, where other designers will be introducing their collections later in the week.
The hotel is offering itself for the first time as a suitable place for fashion shows convenient to Seventh Avenue.
Fernando Sanchez jumped the gun on Sunday afternoon with a showing of his unique brand of fashion, part clothes to wear at home and part clothes to wear at parties.
Sanchez covers a lot of fashion territory, from beach and boudoir styles to extravagant evening dresses. There are exotic elements like djellabas, caftans and play clothes made of patchwork batik prints. But the biggest growth in his collection lies in the party clothes, many of which he develops from a wrap technique.
Skirts and dresses are wrapped around the body so they have an easy, graceful feeling. Stretch lace is an important ingredient used for body suits and T-shirts.
Individual styles include a strapless top embroidered with wood beads and shown with crinkled metallic silk pants. Organdy blouses over split skirts are a comfortable way to dress for warmer weather.
The Blass clothes sizzled as the designer, once known for his classic tailoring and frilly evening fare, dipped into several youthful lodes of contemporary fashion.
There were, for instance, his naked dresses with their cut-outs and see-through fabrics.
Just how close they were to swimsuits was demonstrated dramatically when he sent some swimwear down the runway alongside his dresses with their scooped out sides and bare shoulders. There was also a close relationship to lingerie, as shown in the bra-top dresses, miles of lace and point d'esprit.
But the dominant trend throughout the collection was the emphasis on clothes in two or more different colors and patterns checks and plaids, plaids in different sizes and complexities, or possibly just two different shades.
It gave a kinetic buzz to the long-jacket-and-pleated-skirt look and the jacket-over-dress outfit, both of which are keys to spring dressing.