Strapless gets new wings at Fashion Week

February 4, 2008 7:09:13 PM PST
At last, a strapless dress you can wear to work.

Bare shoulders were everywhere at New York Fashion Week, but so was a new take on the layered look: strapless dresses with knit tops underneath.

Monday's fashions were better suited to women who don't need a job, though. Uptown girls who lunch will have plenty of options come fall from classic designers who stayed true to their styles.

Carolina Herrera, Halston and Oscar de la Renta were among the early marquee shows. The looks were tailored and trim (Herrera), flowy and retro (Halston) and embellished (de la Renta).

There was barely a touch of the trendy fashions that have dominated the runways so far, including rock 'n' roll style and miniskirts. Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week runs through Feb. 8.

CAROLINA HERRERA When Carolina Herrera does country, only an English countryside manor will do. The fall collection she presented was full of brown, blue, mustard yellow and a lot of feathers.

Models donned Peter Pan hats with their windowpane coats, riding pants and even taffeta cocktail dresses. Many of the outfits also featured ornithology-inspired prints - one was delicate wing print and the other was a more colorful bird print.

The bird print was stunning on a chiffon embroidered gown dotted all over with ostrich feathers. For those who prefer a more subtle look, there was a strapless gown in bronze taffeta with a feather waistband.

Herrera definitely continued with the emerging trend of adding something fancy to an otherwise more casual outfit, or the reverse - adding something cozy to an elegant evening ensemble.

PETER SOM Peter Som's newest collection featured many of the traditional trappings of fall - tweed, flannel and a little bit of fur - but he tweaked them just enough to keep the fashion crowd wanting a little more.

And more they'll get. While Som previewed his own label Monday morning, he'll debut his collection for the Bill Blass label on Thursday to largely the same audience of stylists, editors and retailers.

The first Som look was a "bathrobe" - apparently a code word for a cozy coat - made of navy plaid flannel worn with a blue ink-blot chiffon dress. Another unexpected look was a black goat shrug, with a long, double-layer cashmere cardigan with a full boucle skirt.

Some of the designer's colors, especially the pretty blues and greens on his "ivy" print, seemed more likely candidates for a springtime scene in a Monet painting, but worn under a subtle black-and-gray, panther-print coat, the bright colors provided just the right pop.

MISS SIXTY Good times were rolling for Miss Sixty as the brand, which made its name in denim, sent out a full-fledged fall collection that largely got a thumbs' up from a fashion-savvy crowd that included Anne Hathaway, Chloe Sevigny and Ashley Olsen.

The theme of Sunday night's runway show at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week was the free spirits of the late 1960s and early '70s, with a backdrop of old Volkswagen bugs to emphasize it. Notes from creative director Wichy Hassan highlighted Miss Sixty's commitment to sexiness, glamour and irony.

The opening look was a navy, brown and ivory strapless print dress with a tiered skirt that was worn with a beaded, fringed belt. There was an earthy sexiness to the outfit that set the tone for the rest of the show.

GAP Just as there's no reason to reinvent the wheel, there's no reason to reinvent the basics of the American wardrobe such as the leather jacket, cargo pants and the boyfriend sweater.

Patrick Robinson, the new chief designer at Gap, wants to give them an update instead.

Robinson unveiled his debut collection for the retailer Sunday - and it's worth noting that Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour was among the first to see the presentation that included airy blouses under button-front blazers for women and a jersey hoodie sweater for men.

Come fall, expect to see new fabrics, including suede on a great cream-colored drawstring coat for women, and a more sophisticated color palette. Instead of the primary colors, you'll be seeing a lot more teal, dark purple and charcoal gray at your neighborhood Gap.


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