The designers/ Todd Oldham


Anna Sui

Anna Sui, one of the new kids on the designer circuit, presented a romping kiddie collection. She wants to put the twentysomethings who patronize her street-smart line into naughty baby dresses and schoolgirl gear. She sent out little plaid cotton kilts with shrunken Peruvian sweaters, a lighthearted summer version of street grunge. On the sweeter side, she showed short denim apron wrap dresses, silver leather hot pants and hip skirts and skimpy vintage print shifts. To reinforce the kiddie theme, she put models in fuzzy stuffed animal hats, white knee socks and silver tap-dance-class shoes.

AHer collection, which draws the brat pack and lots of giggles, is always a fun event because her clothes are priced for young budgets rather than serious investors.

Richard Tyler's first collection for the house of Anne Klein was good on clothes but sad on styling. The California designer, whose forte is impeccable tailoring, presented a show based on beautifully cut jackets and separates, but the production had a Raggedy Ann look -- models with oily and unkempt hair held in place with bobby pins, shower flip-flops with evening wear and drab high-top sneakers with brocades and satins.

Women's Wear Daily reported that retailers saw beneath the runway grunge and liked the line and bought it, but the fashion pack shuddered at the youth quake at this old, traditional house. Change is never easy.

It was an homage to Super Women -- Emma Peel of "The Avengers," Cleopatra Jones and a Lady Kung Fu. The girls had attitude and so did the clothes. Leather jumpsuits, slinky stretch minidresses, snappy hot pants and Chinese vamp dresses. Saucy clothes for the women who can wear them. Byron Lars has a way with shape, and cut this season's fit and flare silhouette to maximum advantage with a series of black and white striped dresses that drew the lines on good figures. And his shirt looks were a clean and comfortable way to summer.

There was some gunplay on the runway with models toting pistols and wearing bandolier belts filled with lipstick cases. A wake-up show altogether.

Donna Karan did it again with a collection that speaks modern. Her fabrics, fiberglass coated, shimmery metallics and silvery stretch lycra, could be clothes for the next century, but her elegant and graceful cuts are timeless. Her short skirts flow and wrap gracefully, her jackets cling softly. She accents the midriff by setting a belt on the hip rather than exposing an expansive flash of stomach. Much of her wardrobe is built on tank bodysuits, over which she layers airy jackets, shimmery trench coats or fluid sweaters. In a week of so much underwear masquerading as fashion, it was a strong statement on the excitement and quality of American fashion.

The Oldham show is one of fashion week's hot tickets. Always colorful, always fun and the models love to work it even if it means a cut in pay. Cindy Crawford made her first appearance of the week wearing red and black flame print stretch pants and black bra top. Wow! This show was no place for waifs. Oldham does his own thing, which is vibrant color. He showed bright pinks, tie dyes, patched prints and complex embroideries. Even in quieter combinations, a hot print lines the jacket.

A drive across America was the theme, and Oldham confidently shifted gears through the season's hot shapes. Slips, hot pants and tank tops were all there, with the added dimension of rich pattern.

A good ride all the way.

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