“I (don’t) feel bad about my Neck”

The whole statement necklace trend (and I hate using that word because it’s far more than a trend at this point) has really taken off so much so that probably by this time next season, we will all have gotten bored of it and it will look entirely passé. Until then, (if show goers and spring 2010 runways are any indication) they are here to stay.

And they make good sense on so many levels. At a time when the economy is the way it is and shoppers are exercising more caution in terms of their purchases, these amazing necklaces, neck pieces, bibs, chains, etc., are a rather simple, quick, easy, and inexpensive (or at least, they can be) way to instantly change one’s look and really make an impact, without even buying anything new.

The transformative nature of accessories (and the statement necklace in particular) was very much on display at the Badgley Mischka show held yesterday morning. In addition to ready to wear, the dapper duo, who originally made their name designing Red Carpet entrance making gowns, have a successful jewelry licensee, in addition to shoes and handbags, and as it turns out, the decidedly simplified, rather classic shapes that comprised spring 2010, were a perfect foil for their eye catching bijoux — most notably their necklaces, which were presented in a variety of incarnations.

Among the standouts from the well edited 41 piece collection, (many of which benefitted from the use of these over the top neck pieces), include the chic salt and pepper silk and tweed skirt suit with belted and peplumed jacket worn over a narrow pencil skirt which opened the show; the simple white shantung jumpsuit; the white shantung tuxedo pantsuit; the white matte jersey gown with trompe l’oeil beaded belt; the ivory lace and taffeta clover (petal) dress; the black shantung jacket shown over an ivory taffeta clover floor length skirt; and the group of glamorous swimsuits in pimento, black and white (there was a maillot in white and a black bikini shown with a white blazer). FYI: the glamorous, dressed up swimsuit is shaping up to be a bonafide trend this season.

Strange Bedfellows

It looks as though it’s going to be a ‘brief’ season. Brian Reyes was yet another designer using almost ‘nothing’ but briefs (and mile high legs and higher heels), beneath his coats or jackets, on his runway. The designer always cuts a fabulously chic car coat and this season, in stone Japanese cotton, was no exception. Of course, it’s his prints and patterns that always stand out (this time, it was his group of ‘bleeding heart prints”). Also notable were the embroidered ‘skeletal’ print tank dress and top shown with black centipede skirt. A white Japanese cotton strapless harnass dress was simple, to the point, and elegant; and for pure color impact, the wasabi (bright chartreuse really) silk crepe tiered dress deserves a mention.

That said, one of the most curious aspects of the show, was the press release attached, announcing Brian’s collaboration with Proper Attire, www.properattirecondoms.com: “The company Proper Attire condoms transform the “Staple” everyone should carry to the signature item every woman should own”. The designer was selected because of his “ultra feminine designs that make every woman feel elegant and sexy”. Brian designed the packaging by incorporating a pattern used throughout his resort 2010 collection: a botanical motif with abstract poppies, blooming buds, and climbing roots, (I have a question: how exactly does one decide what print to put on a condom???)

At a time when so many designers are collaborating with different kinds of companies on a wide range of products…this one takes the cake!

‘After Five’

Dennis Basso cited “fluid movement with a nod to the ballerinas of the great Degas”, as inspiration for his ‘After 5’ collection that was dedicated mainly to “cocktail dressing”. I don’t know about you, but for me, the notion of a collection based on ‘cocktail’ hour, and for ‘after five’ seems rather old fashioned especially these days but I guess Dennis Basso knows what his gals want and furs continue to be used year round like any other fabric.

So it was hardly surprising that here were a smattering of pelts (horizontally worked pastel mink and organza cover-ups and abbreviated shrugs and boleros) on Dennis’s runway (PETA protesters were in position outside the Tents, shouting their disapproval and holding signs up but that didn’t deter some of Dennis’s faithful fans, including some of the social set like Jamee Gregory, Cece Cord, and Somers Farkas). Too many of the ‘ballet’ inspired dresses featured skirts that were too full and too short (and often had too much going on), and in general, the more simplified pieces looked the best, like the platinum jersey and bronze chiffon gown worn with a gold diamond dusted python bolero. And the group of dresses featuring a large poppy print on a white background appeared to interest the social set who always need dresses for garden parties and garden themed galas that always come up in the spring and summer months.

Architectural Digest

Ralph Rucci and Yeohlee are not the only designers with an architectural bent, who have lightened up, gone softer, more colorful, and less austere this season. The collection shown last evening by Narciso Rodriguez, was beautifully conceived, smart, chic, and wearable, and a study in restraint; and would suit the needs of many women who work and also need clothes that look special, not fashion victim-y (not often easy to find).

It was also a toned down yet natural evolution from fall’s almost jolting and bold graphic patterns (which were shown from head to toe in many cases) and its equally strong color story. This season, there were still shots of color (green, pink, fuchsia, burnt purple), used effectively with the designer’s signature palette of black, white, natural, and jute, but it did not look as jarring as it had for fall. And the patterns, while graphic and still effective, were more scaled down.

There was a feeling of lightness and weightlessness in the construction of garments, and the use of controlled volume throughout (jackets, coats, and dresses followed the lines of the body but did not constrain the body), and pleats gave movement to skirts and dresses. Layering and transparency, themes that have all been in Narciso’s stable of signatures, showed up again, and the over all effect is one that is feminine and even sexy without being obvious or vulgar in any way. This is something Narciso has perfected.

Suits, matched or unmatched, with jackets devoid of any stiffness, and shown with a soft skirt or narrow pant, were a recurring theme. (Sleeveless jackets, a trend on many runways this season, looked especially good here). The show opener, a beautifully shaped black linen canvas and silk faille jacket paired with an ecru pleated silk organza skirt and white satin chiffon top set the mood, and a white silk/linen organza jacquard jacket with a double peplum, shown over a white silk linen organza jacquard pant was very appealing.

There were two artfully constructed coats, in silk and cotton mud cloth and dresses (a Narciso mainstay) were given a lot of attention, appearing in a variety of ways. There were silk linen organza jacquard dresses, mud cloth dresses, printed dresses, dresses with arrestingly cut out backs, dresses with loose backs (a modified ‘sack’), and graphic tri-colored dresses (one notable example was the black/purple/coral silk crepe and chiffon dress). The show ended with a trio of gowns in black, white, and silver, that were short in front and long in back and when the models walked down the runway, they appeared to float.

-Marilyn Kirschner

“The Daily Bet” by Rhonda Erb

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Ernest Schmatolla is publisher of Lookonline since 1994. It is the longest running fashion site on the Internet.

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