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Gotham had it all this week, as designers walked to the beat of their own drums. They sent out everything from the minimal — sleek, prim suits — to over-the-top — cheeky plaids combined with jailhouse stripes.
Chaiken: There are two reasons to celebrate chez Chaiken right now. One, founder and president Julie Chaiken just welcomed her second son, Zachary, to the family, and two, creative director Jeff Mahshie sent out another round of his imminently wearable togs. For fall, he took his clean, unfettered aesthetic to an even more minimal place, stripping it of almost every detail except for a few passementerie closures and some subtle flounces. All the better to show off his precision cut and fit — wool capes and coats belled out and tight pants hung instead of clung. Even a fully sequined dress, in its platinum sheen, looked discreet. And that, after all, is exactly what the cool, confident Chaiken girl is about.
Heatherette: The Heatherette show notes read, "A pretty girl is like a melody," and to that end, designers Richie Rich and Traver Rains sent out a show that sang New York with sparkle and showgirl shine, Big Apple prints, jailhouse stripes and everything in between. Their swingy black-and-white sequined T-shirt dress was made for a night on the town, as was the cheeky plaid trenchcoat with tweed trim and candy-colored buttons. Day looks were equally fun, especially the skinny denim jeans, cozy cabled cardigans and shimmery cotton hoodie. These are not the wares for wallflowers, but as their muse, Amanda LePore, strutted the finale holding a "Dreams Do Come True" sign, the crowd — including Marc Jacobs, Debbie Harry and Scissor Sisters front-man Jake Shears — couldn't help but catch the Heatherette enthusiasm.
Thakoon: When Thakoon Panichgul was talking backstage about his fall inspiration — a Tim Hawkinson painting called "Divan" — he might have been describing his own work. "I love it when you see one thing, but then you look again and it's something else," he said. While playing with the notion of making sexy clothes elegant and refined, Panichgul conjured up the chic gamine from the streets of Saint Germain. But with jackets, dresses and even a kicky striped frock made with trompe l'oeil corset details, he gave his raffish girl a deeper sensuality. Elsewhere, he delighted with painted stitches on a grosgrain number or by exposing seams on the straps of a dress, crafting the fabric into a raw-edged flower. Though several looks with enormous cape collars felt out of step with his usual sense of lightness, Panichgul is becoming one of New York's most promising attractions.