It's been six months since New York's designers hailed the return of the 1980s, and their foray with the decade continued for autumn 07. Most notable were collections from womenswear big hitters Donna Karan and Diane von Furstenberg, who opted for body-conscious dressing and bold geometric prints respectively.
While Karan reintroduced the body stocking, which formed the basis of countless black and sweet wrapper-coloured day-to-evening dresses, Furstenberg's references were generally more subdued. That said, her collection addressed a more youthful, funky aesthetic than is characteristic for her - a move that indicates the enduring popularity of 1980s trends.
British designer Luella Bartley also channelled the 1980s look. Her take had a more playful edge that focused on kitsch bubblegum-pink taffeta dresses and skinny trousers. She even doffed her design cap to British hunting references.
Marc Jacobs presented a more sophisticated mood. The message from his mainline collection was that autumn 07 would have a more reserved and feminine style. Jacobs favoured a 1920s look that included demure button-front coats and dresses that skimmed below the knee, while shirts and blouses were fastened modestly to the uppermost button.
Slender three-piece suits nodded towards a more masculine silhouette than is generally associated with more obvious flapper styling, but there were enough feminine touches - from leather gloves to cloche hats - to keep the collection on the right side of androgyny. For eveningwear, the wrapped and draped hourglass cocktail dresses unleashed a womanly shape that will keep all buyers happy.
Overall, a sombre mood permeated the schedule, with black, charcoal grey and pewter dominating the colour palette - shades that were particularly prolific at Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs and Donna Karan. Where bold colour was used, it came in sudden unexpected bursts of cobalt blue, tomato red and violet on fluid satins and ritzy taffetas. Prints also provided interesting colour respites, with 1980s splashes and art deco references to the fore.
Generally, this was a fashion week that preferred to distil last season's thoughts rather than generate fresh ideas.
SHOW OF THE WEEK
Last season, when other designers were raising their hemlines, Marc Jacobs opted for demure and pretty flapper-style confections. For autumn 07 he continued to buck the trend while reworking the current fascination with the 1920s. The look was more linear and at times almost masculine, with crisp slim satin blouses and ties worn with slender trousers, three-piece suiting and button-down shirt dresses. These were mixed with chic mid-calf shift-style dresses, art deco prints and super-slim pencil skirts that gave the models a ladylike wiggle. Jacobs topped off each outfit with either a cloche or a wide-brimmed take on the fedora. With hats occupying the fashion zeitgeist, these were the icing on his catwalk cake.
Although some of his autumn 07 pieces were derivative, Matthew Williamson turned a corner this season with a collection of disco-ready draped dresses and subtly embellished bold silk shifts. Moving his signature boho look on for a new, glossier generation, this season's emphasis was on shiny cobalt blue or sweet-wrapper orange shades with multi-tonal psychedelic prints. Mildly asymmetric satin dresses featured a restrained scattering of plastic beading, while necklines were high on kaftan-inspired cape-sleeved styles. Heavily embellished yokes enlivened some little black dresses, while others shimmered with a smattering of sequins and tiny mirrors. This was disco dressing for Studio 54, rather than the beach bars of Ibiza.
Diane von furstenberg
The queen of the wrap dress showed her tougher side with a darker and more severe collection. A 1980s mood permeated short-sleeved smocks with a single sweeping circle across one side, as well as tiered taffeta skirts on cap-sleeve or dropped-waist dresses. Large-scale details were key on fringed shift dresses, which were cinched just above the knee, while long-line knits were laser cut into intricate patterns, in contrast to simple V-neck sweater dresses. DVF's signature wrap dresses were updated with ruffles or giant polka dots and geometric prints; a new body-conscious silhouette also came through.
If ever a UK designer wanted to drum it home that British style rules the fashion roost, it was Luella Bartley. Her autumn 07 offer in New York opened with a modern take on hunting chic, featuring a pillar-box red knee-length coat and wing-tipped white shirt. This theme continued on 1sb blazers and jodhpur shape shorts, which were cropped below the knee. Velvet db Le Smoking-inspired jackets were worn with pretty prom-style dresses to create a look fuelled by Luella's trademark cheeky take on classic styles. 1980s elements were once again present for autumn 07 on bubblegum-pink skinny trousers and taffeta dresses, and the designer's db glen check coats and wool khaki blazers mixed the punky princess theme with a Sloaney pony look.
With a new look dominated by monochrome pieces, British designer Alice Temperley's collection proved that she has embraced the New York spirit. Elements of her signature V-neck dresses and bold cape sleeves lived on in knitted intarsia dresses and flippy dresses overlaid with guipure lace, but her use of fitted tailoring was brand new. Heavy Egyptian-style yoke necklines were embellished with sequins, and Russian-style embroidery gave slick evening gowns an ethnic edge. But it was Temperley's tailoring that showed she is not just a one trick pony, with Little Lord Fauntleroy knickerbockers, shrunken jackets and Le Smoking-style tuxedos.
Designer Francisco Costa focused on purity of cut and a sparse aesthetic in his collection for Calvin Klein. Funnel necklines were prominent, both on structured pewter wool jackets and on marbled bone-coloured body-skimming dresses. Asymmetrically fastened cocoon coats and jackets with soft shoulders were similarly structured, and came in both grey and black shades. The collection's overall look was lustrous and shiny, with sheen provided either through the silk content of the fabric or with the addition of rows of glittering sequins. For eveningwear, the same minimal, streamlined look was a big feature. Subtle sweetheart strapless necklines on black column evening dresses were stunning in their simplicity.
Celebrity favourite Zac Posen presented an eclectic collection that featured everything from multi-layered baby dolls to high-waisted trousers, and ultra-glam slinky red carpet gowns in black, violet or forest green. Despite his dalliances with fuller skirts, cape-sleeved jackets and girlish dresses, Posen was true to form with his sexy, figure-hugging eveningwear. Many pieces featured his signature body-conscious seam piping, which highlights both the wearer's curves and the skill of the cut. Eye-wateringly tight pencil skirts came plain or with heavy embroidery, while sunray and knife pleats fell from cropped jackets and black organza was used to create Dynasty-style glamour on transparent blouses.
Buyers looking for a reworking of the LBD were spoilt for choice at Donna Karan, who went back to her design basics for autumn 07. Using the 1980s as a point of reference, she brought the infamous body stocking back into play, layering the look with colourful cinched-waist bustiers, strapless sheaths and swags of fluid satin on tunic-style dresses. Skirt lengths sashayed from tight mini styles to knee-length or floor-skimming folds. The black theme was given a splash of colour thanks to regal shades of violet, gold and teal on disco-looking satins, taffetas and the shiniest patent leather, in a collection that answered the classic day-to-evening wardrobe dilemma.