Klein, Karan soft for spring

Fashion: The final Fashion Week collections counter '80s excess with timeless looks.

September 25, 2000|By Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan | Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK - The Fashion Week tent has been taken down, the MAC makeup has all been washed off, and the models probably have gone back to eating again.

OK, who are we kidding? Models? Food? But the rest of that is true - Fashion Week, where more than 100 designers showed their collections, ended on a high note Friday with power-players Donna Karan and Calvin Klein revealing their chic and sexy visions for spring.

For much of the preceding week, the runways had been dominated by collections borne of a mish-mash of decades - the '50s recast in the '80s with a touch of flapper '20s influence. Several designers unveiled plans to bring back the figure-unflattering bubble skirt and the thick, low-slung belt, among other retro items that women without model-esque frames will be hard-pressed to carry off.

But Donna and Calvin went with a soft yet tailored look that had elements of the '80s but also a classic, timeless quality. Donna Karan expressed it best in her program describing her spring line for women: "This is for the woman who struts her style, A sexy study of contradiction, Feminine and masculine, manicured and thrown. Forever blurring her day into night."

Her collection featured flirty silk and chiffon cocktail dresses in passion red, caviar, lilac and champagne. The lines flowed, with dresses and skirts having asymmetrical hemlines or fabric cut like scarves or petals that swished sexily as the models walked. And in many cases, the delicate champagne-colored slips under the dresses were very short, which added to their sex appeal.

Some fabrics used for these dresses had stripes of varying widths going in different directions, which when cut in such a fluid way, created a striking contrast. Karan also paired some skirts with thin-striped, fitted silk jackets that made for a chic, work-to-cocktail-party look. Buyer beware, though: some of the skirts and dresses were so short that the probability of inadvertent panty shots is high.

Karan showed her talent for both hard and soft-edged styles. Her red leather short skirt and jacket with slight shoulder pads depicted a bad biker chick look, while a caviar-colored wrap dress, belted at the waist, was daintily tied in the back.

But then there was the champagne-colored linen coat with huge fisherman's pockets in the front, which begged the question: What does a working woman have to put in there? Boxes of pens? Five Palm Pilots?

One questionable outfit out of 71 otherwise wonderful ones in Karan's women's line is definitely forgivable, though. And her men's line didn't disappoint either. The trendy black suits had her trademark urban-sleek cut, and Karan offered a few clubby options for men, too. Particularly pleasing was the caviar-colored sweater with bands of see-through fabric.

Calvin Klein displayed the same tasteful playfulness in his spring collection, which he unveiled in a chi-chi Chelsea showroom to an audience that included his ex-wife Kelly Klein, Milla Jovovich and Sarah Jessica Parker donning one of her signature pin-on flowers.

Klein's line included sexy tissue silk shifts, jersey dresses with low-slung belts, and form-fitting jackets or blouses with the sleeves rolled up slightly and the collars turned up in some cases. What made these '80s adaptations chic and highly wearable was Klein's classy color palette - powder blue, pale pink, oyster, graphite, green tea, soft coral, berry, lilac and violet.

The audience also oohed and ahhed at a line of sporty stretch dresses with backs that resembled Speedo swimsuits and boatneck jerseys with transparent bands shooting across the front. Klein also ventured a gander into the future, with some iridescent taffeta funnel-necked blouses that, paired with big-framed sunglasses, offered a look that could be hip for a leisurely day-trip to Mars, should that ever happen.

Of course, if mini-vacations to Mars become possible within the next few decades, designers then probably will be pushing partying outfits reminiscent of the 2000s - by way of the '80s, that is.

Spring fashion essentials

A belt. The thicker, the better. And if it's studded or in a color like cherry red or electric blue, you'll rock even more.

A mini-skirt. Time to hit the treadmill and get those legs in shape. The mini-skirt is making a comeback.

An off-the-shoulder or one-shouldered blouse or dress. Several designers have sexy one-shoulder dresses and evening gowns in classy shades of gold or silver.

Chunky, chintzy jewelry. Think fake gold necklaces or bangles and huge shoulder-duster earrings or big, plastic hoops in bright colors. Remember, you don't want to buy classy looking chunky jewelry. A choker of fat, real pearls is the kiss of death to an '80s glam-trash look.

An asymmetrical skirt or dress. The skirt with an even hem is so '90s. The it-skirt for spring is asymmetrical in structure, with slits where they normally wouldn't be.

Gloves with the fingers cut off. Gloves that end at the wrist or creep up to the elbow are fine, as long as the fingers are exposed.

Funky sock and shoe combos. Mix but don't match is the rule here. Wear pink socks with white pumps, blue socks with gold strappy shoes. Another option is fishnet stockings in various colors.

A jacket with shoulder pads. Wear it with the collar turned up. And, if the spirit of David Bowie moves you, wrap a thin tie over the upturned collar.

Color, color, color. If you have any hesitations about wearing bright fuchsia with bright yellow, don't. Clashing colors will be in vogue.

Final advice. Don't buy too much. From past experience - for those who remember living through the '80s, that is - you should know that you're probably going to want to burn these clothes (and any pictures of you in them) before the year is over.

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