New York spring previews

November 10, 1994|By Vida Roberts | Vida Roberts,Sun Fashion Editor

MARC JACOBS

With his reborn business still too modest for the fashion week tents in New York's Bryant Park, Marc Jacobs got a day's head start showing in a photo loft in Soho.

It was a select audience, with the top fashion players in attendance. A showroom setting with limited seating is a more accurate barometer of fashion clout. What they saw was a first glimpse of the retro fever that raged through many spring collections. Marc Jacobs hopped decades and drew inspiration from clothing as diverse as Dale Evans cowgirl frocks and Busby Berkeley tap pants.

The '70s leisure suit even made an appearance, made more acceptable in satin brights instead if polyester mint green.

By the way, white patent leather belts and shoes are in fashion. Aren't you ashamed you laughed at pop's?

NICOLE MILLER

Nicole Miller, the queen of conversational fun prints, did it with pattern as well as cut. First out were deep blue and white op prints made up into halters, skirts and rompers and paired with navy pin-dot separates, a fresh take on spring's traditional navy/white combination. Sweet.

Sweet and sexy were snake-print separates, if you can imagine reptilian charm in a short-sleeved, cropped jacket with a Peter Pan collar.

It was a collection strong on dresses with a light easy-to-wear touch. They were shapely yet not constricting and not embarrassingly bare.

Her retro trick was a reprise of little black cocktail suits and dresses brightened with glittery brooches which were permanent and embroidered in the big spray vintage style of the '40s and '50s. Too Joan Collins and not enough Lana Turner.

DONNA MILLER

The collection was all woman ` sexy, sophisticated and shaped to a fare-thee-well. When a designer includes a "dress bra" in a new line you can be sure there is no mincing around about curves.

The new foundations of the Donna Karan wardrobe are softer versions of old underwear hardware.

There were bra dresses holding the figure up, there were corset jackets holding the shape in, there were molded dance dresses holding on for dear life.

There were more relaxed pieces more suitable for Donna-type figures than Nadja-type figures. Mannequins can wear trash bags and look super, matrons need help.

The Karan colors were black, red and nude, nude being a relative appellation inasmuch as our birthday suits come in a variety of shades, but we won't quibble.

CALVIN KLEIN

The thing about Calvin Klein's shows is that one knows the clothes are marvelous, but the show drones.

He's a purist, and like all clear thinkers he can be a bit of a bore ` no rambling, no distractions, no jokes on the side.

He opened his spring collection with a procession of black, unrelieved except for strappy bone sandals and python mary janes. Clean shifts, clean suits, clean slips in wool crepe, gabardine and twill.

The surprise from Mr. Natural was a series of dresses and suits in industrial-looking nylon. He's on to something, just as he was about the knee length which is now a given across the designer board.

From black he moved to navy and then to white. Color was barely there in tints of misty rose, ice blue/gray, alabaster and quartz. The show lightened up with ivory and ecru satin slips.

RALPH LAUREN

Ralph Lauren delivers consistent design that is understandable, if not always affordable by the mass market. For spring Lauren came back to America's country clubs and polo grounds, familiar turf for the man who built a label on the clothes of America's privileged class.

His debs wore cashmere sweater sets, classic polo shirt looks in silks and sequins and cream and white tennis separates in knits and stretch satin. For parties on the veranda there were garden dresses in large florals in soft georgette. Peter Pan collars and pearls were a nod to nostalgia.

The junior-year-abroad look for his younger Ralph line featured Parisian bohemians in curvy shrunken T's, slashed skirts and can-can mesh stockings.

CAROLINA HERRERA

For the ladies who want trends without trauma there is Carolina Herrera. She sent out a collection that proves any extreme can be refined to meet with approval and envy in the toughest luncheon crowd. Her dresses suggest curves with contrast piping and shaped details. Striped suits were mitered on the diagonal to give the illusion of a tiny waist. Her corsets were modestly suggested by scalloped shaping and vertical piping. She even had her way with the ubiquitous polka dot, making it a square dot in black on white and ever more sophisticated.

The suggestion of retro was in sleek and narrow-shouldered day dresses in the Jackie O style, which made the point without those big, dark glasses that are being shown on other runways.

The Herrera evening dresses have glamour without gaudiness, despite strong color combinations such as crimson and marigold. Color and cut are sure, tinsel is a temporary thing.

ANNE KLEIN

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