Feast for the Eyes

One part easy chic and another helping of floaty froth — with just a dash of Seventies sportif. That’s the concoction some designers recently...

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One part easy chic and another helping of floaty froth — with just a dash of Seventies sportif. That’s the concoction some designers recently dished out on their New York runways.

Jill Stuart: Shedding the heavy Mod inflections of her fall collection, Jill Stuart explored an overtly fluttery, frippery-filled motif. One after another, she sent out diaphanous organza and satin puffs — misty mint minidresses, pouffy pink shorts and a few purely editorial sheer pants in black and white. The idea of such fluffy prettiness was a good one, but some of the silhouettes featured bubbled proportions around the hips, which are a tough sell. And while many dresses, especially those toward the finale, were delicately ethereal, some just looked messy.

DKNY: Getting dressed shouldn't be a struggle, and Donna Karan has always made it her mission to ease that process. At DKNY, she offered any number of fab solutions: long, lean-into-flared pants, crisp dress shirts and flowy dresses with tightly wrapped belts, all of it revolving around a relaxed Seventies sportif. This wasn't a retro-fest though, not with the cool play of melon, gray and white, and the crafty ribbon and stone details, which she used sparingly. These were good, real clothes with that all-important easy, throw-on-and-go appeal.

Daryl K: When Daryl Kerrigan says her collection is about body-conscious silhouettes, she's not referring to bustier tops and form-fitting frocks. "It's about how everything feels on your body," she explained. In other words, her clothes are easy with a capital E — T-shirt dresses, drawstring vests, relaxed shorts and trousers, all to typical louche effect. Despite the sporty undercurrent pulsing throughout, Kerrigan managed to work in plenty of that rocker reference, from studs embellishing necklines, hems and sleeves to belt-like straps that crisscrossed low on the hips.

VPL by Victoria Bartlett: Runway show or dance recital? That was the question about Victoria Bartlett's terpsichorean collection, for which she channeled Vaslav Nijinsky, Anita Berber and, more obviously, Martha Graham, with bodysuits under dresses and sheer slips, wonderful "Nijinsky" jodhpurs and blousy painted tunics with coined cuffs. As Bartlett expands her quirky lingerie and bandage looks into ready-to-wear collections, however, a bit of the focus and fun are lost. But for this dance-driven conceit, the textured knits, stretch satins and georgette looked freshest when rolled, twisted and draped into shapes that referenced the movement of dance. The most outstanding looks, however, were more indie-undie: tap shorts edged in crystal; an alabaster hobble skirt with a bandage bra, and the hysterical huge white mini crinoline over undies with a tank top and blouse.

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