Our last look round at the fall shows in New
York before we head into our spring coverage. Black and blue were
the order of the day but it was occasionally upset (thankfully)
Most catwalk photographs by Richard Spiegel
in the Halston collection. Far left: BCBG Max Azria.
Bottom left: Carolina Herrera.
MUST be the anticipation of being in a wartime economy that American
designers went blacka safe colour for a nation tip-toeing
back to reality (the Dow Jones index is the same). In some ways,
it's a sad reflection that the rules of fashion trends have remained
the same: black means safe, short skirts mean improving stockmarket
figures, etc. Many designers haven't broken from this mould. And
if the creative industry says that the rules stay, then the corporate
scandals won't finish with the executives in handcuff parades.
Fortunately, there are enough who have broken
the rules. While black is fall's new black, there were plenty of
different forms on offer. To do so within confines takes geniusit
is like those creatives who get round anti-smoking legislation,
such as those Brits who came up with the Silk Cut print advertising
campaign that never showed a single pack of cigarettes.
BCBG Max Azria, for example, stayed true
to black but was courageous enough to experiment with forms, shapes
and angles. This is new amongst the bigger, established labels,
though less so among the newer kids on the block that have recently
come out of FIT (we think of folks like Sara James, who were first
featured in Lucire, who were cutting the garments accordingly).
It's Max's usual European inspiration that pushes
the boundaries, coupled with west-coast tolerance for things new.
Therefore, it's hats off to BCBG Max Azria for a strong fallwinter
presence, giving customers the pieces they want but staying understated.
Carolina Herrera was another designer to
go understated and, in her words, 'quieter … Everything is a bit
less vibrant, more elegant and somehow traditional,' she told one
source. However, she also said that her design decisions had not
been influenced by the post-9-11 mood. Fall 2002 was, in her opinion,
Halston updated the classic hallmarks of
its founder's design style, thanks to designer Piyawat Pattanpuckdee
who was hired in April 2001. This marks his first collection for
the brand. Again, understated sophistication was the order of the
day from the Thai-born, Pratt Institute-trained designer.