The designers/ Ralph Lauren


Adrienne Vittadini

Adrienne Vittadini's strong hand with knits falls right into this season's trends. Her tank tops and T-shirt dresses made a strong showing, proving that current doesn't have to be cheesy. Her clothes have enough substance and weight to be worn by real women who want to be in fashion without letting it all hang out.

She's strong on spring stripes and colors and her knit tank dress shown over a body-hugging poor-boy T-shirt is a reality check against the over-exposed models seen elsewhere.

White cropped tank tops paired with miniskirts and held together with suspenders are a crisp and fresh ideas on summer dressing.

Ralph Lauren continues being good and better. After a film presentation of the world according to Ralph, featuring wholesome young things frolicking at their summer places, he kicked off the show with his Sport and Ralph secondary lines. Young, clean and polished, just the way we wish we were.

The signature Ralph Lauren collection was a refined restyling of the mixed cultures of colonial Indochina -- beautifully wrapped sarongs paired with military battle jackets in long, cropped or sleeveless versions. Sleek mandarin collared suits had a businesslike polish, and his evening looks continued the Southeast Asian theme with blues from indigo to midnight in subtle ikat beading patterns.

Would that the world were as civilized as Ralph Lauren designs it.

The queen of prints may be spending too much time with the gents at the tie and sock counters. She's dressing the babes rather than real women. The show was more sleaze than style with models in dreaded up hair that looked like they had spent a bad night cruising the shopping malls.

She opened the show with skimpy dresses that barely covered the buttocks and segued into more short subjects. Even in a week of bareness and peek-a-boo, the teasy collection struck a wrong chord, a sad note from a designer who has built a reputation for clothes with a young and fresh quality.

The master of the minimal kept his collection so simple, the parts blended together in a litany of understatement. No frills, no gimmicks, just clean pieces in black, white and neutral naturals showing the seams and skeletons of their construction. He still believes in layering, putting a linen mesh jacket over a linen gauze tank over a silk tank over silk skirt. Lots of pieces but all very spiritual. That monastic purity may be penance for the obsession with sex in Calvin Klein's other perfumed and anointed fashion lives.

The fabrics are beautiful, the cuts spare. It needs a perfect woman to bring out the beauty of these clothes and not all the models were up to it.

The American premiere of Ghost, the British label for a line of once-ethereal designs by Tanya Sarne, brought out the way-cool New York fashion groupies. The black and booted set was queued up for hours. Ms. Sarne has been described as a !B designer of hippie chic, and there was that floaty quality to her collection, but the clothes were beautifully finished and crafted. Nothing slipshod or tatty in the Indian-inspired tunics and wraps. There were some black knit column dresses with major tears and runs but this was intended as a play on deconstruction. The collection was pretty, and the sprig-embroidered crepes could become the new status collectibles of the young and hip set.

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