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Double Act

Sophistication and schoolgirl chic shared the stage this season when edgy elegance met glammed-up grunge.

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Herve Leger by Max Azria

Photo By WWD Staff

Sophistication and schoolgirl chic shared the stage this season when edgy elegance met glammed-up grunge.

Hervé Léger by Max Azria: With a new generation of Hollywood starlets pouring their Pilates-toned bods into Hervé Léger's signature bandage dresses, Max Azria decided to present his first Léger runway show since acquiring the company. Yet instead of resting on Léger's laurels, Azria worked to make the bandage look his own with some variations in knits and a palette of pretty dégradés. He decorated many with a variety of feathers and silk organza appliqués, but at times got carried away. This is a look that's best left unadorned, as exemplified in a parade of 15 full-on bandage dresses, all of them cut up to here and plunging to there.

Gap: Fashion edge. The quest for it has led more than a few companies down the wrong path. Case in point: the Gap. So in discussing his debut collection for the retailer, Patrick Robinson stressed that he wants to take the company into the future by going back to where it all began. Just don't use the word "basics." "We have a great opportunity to take some classics and make them relevant again," Robinson said. "There are no tricks, just beautiful, elevated classics."

And indeed, in his savvy presentation he offered plenty: jackets, pants, sweaters, puffer vests, denim galore, all great building blocks for real-world wardrobes. Piece by piece, it looked terrific, and Robinson manipulated the various items into a kind of breezy, understandable fashion that felt friendly, and just right for the Gap. Working in a palette of grays, blacks, browns and dusty pinks and plums, he spun it variously from prairie-grunge to Oliver Twist to Carnaby Street, with a few sharply tailored grown-up career looks thrown in along the way. The message was that just about anyone can shop the Gap and make it her own. Robinson said the point of this collection is to "start a conversation with the [Gap] customer." Expect the discussion to continue way into next spring.

Verrier: Ashleigh Verrier raised the bar for young designers who think they're ready to show formally like the big guns. After six seasons, there's not a trace of rookie in her collection, which was a perfect balancing act between exuberance and restraint. Bold crystal details, for instance, were tempered by the simple shape of cashmere coats, while a blush-colored bow dress or the crystal-detailed pink chiffon blouse and magenta cocoon skirt looked charming, not sugary-sweet. While bubble skirts have been exhausted elsewhere, they looked fresh in Verrier's hands, especially on lean torso dresses. "I think we're embracing a more sophisticated, ladylike return to elegance," the designer said. Indeed, it looks as if the Verrier girl has grown up this season.
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