Bill Blass: All eyes are now on Peter Som. The designer is in the challenging position of having to revamp a house that has had a revolving door of designers since the death of Bill Blass in 2002. Will Som be the one to stick? The jury is still out. In his first collection, however, he managed to push things in a more stylish direction than his predecessors, delivering trim suits lacquered in metallics, furs in bright jewel tones and frocks pumped up with oh-so-outré sequins or plumage. And he did so with the expected sampling of Blassisms — tweeds and big bows, anyone? Aside from the double-B monogram mounted at the runway entrance, there was a generic aura to the lineup. But then, at this point, who has a clue as to what a Blass collection should be — let alone what its intended market is? It wasn't that the offerings weren't chic or pretty (the black-and-ivory floral jacquard dress was quite lovely), but Som has a formidable identity crisis to resolve — even he knows it. Preshow, the designer pointed out the screw-like hardware peppered throughout the collection, noting, "It's putting things back together again." It's going to take a lot more than nuts and bolts for that to happen.
Derek Lam: In his show notes, Derek Lam referenced Danish writer Isak Dinesen's struggle to reconcile a bourgeois background with her adventurous spirit. She's an apt muse, since Lam himself seems to be straddling two identities: His strengths lie in polished sportswear, but his fall collection, cast in moody hues such as slate and black, invoked a Goth theme, which quickly felt overwrought. For instance, printed and lace dresses got bulky with ruffled tiers, and skirts — notably a tweed tulip — were complicated by netting. Even a navy wool wrap dress, with swaths of fabric around the waist, looked heavy. While Lam injected just the right amount of edge into his coats and accessories for the hip ingenue — as with a trim black riding jacket and those chic booties, with gold hardware lining the stacked heel — it's unclear who Lam has in mind when it comes to the rest of the line.