Bold color garners top billing for fall 2003


February 13, 2003|By Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan | Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK - Coming down the runway at the Behnaz Sarafpour show were scrumptious creations in pale pink and lemon yellow, slender-bodiced Audrey Hepburn cocktail dresses that blossomed below the waist with tiers of tulle and organza ruffles.

There were dainty ivory cap-sleeved tops and suits in festive chartreuse. Overall, it was a delectable vision - just one that was slightly unexpected for fall, a season traditionally dominated by black, gray and warm chocolate hues.

Fall 2003, however, is shaping up to be the season of spring colors both soft and bold. Mocha is out, pink is in, and if you're game to try a screamingly bright orange, well, more power to you.

"I don't think that there's any real differentiation between the seasons any more," said Wall Street trader turned designer Oliver Christian Herold, who unveiled coral, pink and sky blue ensembles at the Plaza Hotel earlier this week. "As a designer, you just get inspired."

And the inspiration for this season's palette seems to be summer's bright Popsicles and boardwalk cotton candy.

Brazilian designer Carlos Miele led his show with a white and orange fur coat that bore an amazing resemblance to a flaming yeti. The color was dominant in his collection, which also featured chamois hoods and scarves dotted with pink, orange and white fur pom-poms.

Betsey Johnson went south of the border, starting her show with models twirling down the runway wearing long flamenco skirts in canary yellow, orange and hot pink. She showed fuchsia knickers and a bright green sequined dress that was so short its skirt looked more like a belt. Johnson also showed a flair for wild outerwear, showing a bubble jacket, a baby-pink fur bomber and houndstooth coats in green and gold.

But no one showed color more memorably than Marc Jacobs, who went mod this season in both his signature and Marc collections. With their adorable red, orange, green and yellow tunic dresses and hair teased up high, Jacobs' models appeared to be channeling the spirit of Lulu in To Sir With Love at his signature collection show. He paired blue minis with bright orange tights and showed a lemon yellow sweater bearing the imprint of a corset that had a sweetheart neckline.

At his Marc show, Jacobs continued his swinging fall vision but experimented more with patterns. Fake fur coats and pants were done in blue or light yellow cheetah prints. The biggest crowd-pleaser, however, was a darling sleeveless mini-dress in navy blue that had a circular pocket ringed with a band of orange.

Cynthia Steffe recommended adding bright-colored pieces to the fall ensemble instead of wearing a striking hue from head to toe.

"Autumnal tones are present this season, but this is a great way to spark up your look," she said after her show, which featured tangerine sweaters and a bomber jacket and leather mini in hot pink. "It looks fresh, and it's a great pick-me-up."

Just when it began to feel like we were experiencing the psychedelic '60s 24-7, Narciso Rodriguez stepped up with a look that suddenly felt fresh again. His ensembles came in ebony and ivory with smidges of pale pink, lavender and silver. His beautifully tailored coats, suits and sleek dresses with pencil-thin silhouettes came in rich wools, velvets and angora fleeces. Some dresses were accented merely with bright gold zippers that seductively ran down from the models' necks to the hems.

It was haunting, minimalist and an elegant reminder that often, less is definitely more.

This is the second in a series of articles from Fashion Week in New York.

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