Show stoppers Fashion: With flash and flesh, the glam gang turns up the heat on the New York runways.

November 06, 1997|By Vida Roberts | Vida Roberts,SUN FASHION EDITOR

NEW YORK -- The third day of designer fashion week here ended with fireworks. Todd Oldham, a toothy Texan who has no truck with minimalism, put on a show that had the fashion pack sitting up straight and tapping toes to the runway beat.

Show is the operative word here. Many beautiful clothes are being presented by the more than 50 designers who show this week, but many of them need to be seen wearer-close and not at runway distance to be appreciated. An over-the-top event like Oldham stages gets fashion juices pumping.

First on the runway was Cindy Crawford, the original supermodel, in a green satin curve-hugging sheath strewn with beaded flowers. They cheered for the dress, they cheered for the mole.

It was high glam from there on -- corsets encrusted with jewelry, iridescent grass skirts, bits of fringe pretending to be a bikini, microminis and micro bras. Who wears these clothes? Who cares? They were a joy.

Earlier, at the other end of the fashion spectrum, Linda Allard sent out a handsome show for the Ellen Tracy label. It was classic American design in navy and white with hits of shiny olive bronze and aqua for soft color relief. Allard showed jackets with a serious shoulder along with soft kimono toppers. Her skirts were short and energetic. Who wears those clothes? Career women who want a trend and elegance for their hard-earned bucks.

The trends

Cutouts: Lots of peek-a-boo showing up, even on what appear at first glance to be simple dresses. Cutouts take the shape of crescents at the sides of the midriff, slashes across the shoulder, keyhole necklines front and back.

The back seems to be the new erogenous zone, with opportunity to show a lot of skin without endangering a reputation.

Transparency: Designers practically show it all, putting models into the sheerest gowns without benefit of underwear. Some design with life in mind with logistically placed opaque patches. Nicole Miller showed black bandeau bras and miniskirts under cobwebby black dresses. Instead of building modesty with multiple layers of chiffon as designers did last year, next spring's transparencies will build on a solid foundation with a see-through dress, shirt or tunic.

Corsets: A woman who would wear a corset in public probably has a beau to lace her into it, or out of it, as the case may be. Corsets are an element of the romantic undercurrent in fashion and replace the old bustier as a lingerie inspiration. This time, they're cut longer to the hip like a merry widow cinch. For bottoms, designers showed everything from grass skirts to crinolines. Betsey Johnson's belles wore transparent hula hoop skirts.

Tube tops: Don't cringe, the new tubes are not the awful stretch numbers beloved by mall vixens. The new tubes are constructed with shirring, draping or dressmaker details. Ellen Tracy showed hers under serious jackets, Marc Jacobs paired one with a pleated skirt. Both very ladylike. There were exceptions. John Bartlett showed a tube-like bandeau that was worked as a sling with shoulder straps that left the back bare, kind of like a jock strap for bosoms. It would be ideal for a Toni Braxton star turn.

Fancywork: Along with streamlined chic, designers are taking another look at the appeal of traditional handwork. Embroidery, beading, crochet and applique are being shown by masters like Richard Tyler and hipsters like Betsey Johnson. Tyler's gowns were collector-quality examples of fine work -- tucked seams, cutwork leather and macrame joinings -- all labor-intensive and precious. Johnson went freehand with little rosettes here and there and sweet lace insets.

Pleats: After tube skirts and microminis, what do you expect? Fashion needs change and pleats are happening again. Look for knife, box and accordion versions.

Knits: Retire those irons. Packable, and wrinkle-proof, textiles are the news. Jerseys in ultra-fine and heavy weights are summer's care-free fabrics.

Pub Date: 11/06/97

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