New York -- It's looking like a long, hot summer ahead as leading American designers begin unveiling their next year's collections here for buyers and press. Whew. Unseasonably warm weather for the first shows had black-clad and booted fashion watchers sweltering, but the real steam was on the runways.
Fashion is getting so hot that designers are stripping women down to their slips and calling them dresses. These are grandmothers' good slips, however, lace-trimmed satin and charmeuse with clever seaming and bias cuts to follow the curves of the body.
Marc Jacobs did some in navy for the tailored gals. The Jacobs show was one of the first in the designer runway marathon, and fashion hounds eager for rag gossip were craning and gawking for a first star sighting. In fashion land, you see, who shows may be just as important as what is shown.
Among the name tags at the Jacobs show one could make out places for "M" and Isabella Rossellini. Neither M nor I showed, but Mollly Ringwald did. So did naughty Johnny Depp, but that naughty boy refused to be ushered into the spotlight and played scruffy incognito in the back among the less-than-luminary but tidier working press.
Molly Ringwald was next spotted at Miuccia Prada's secondary label called Miu Miu. It was a first appearance for the Italian line here. One could be meow meow about the Miu Miu show, which looked like a one-act version of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," the act Maggie plays in a slip. Tennessee Williams would have loved it -- so seamy and wilted.
Some of that Southern sultry also crept into Russell Bennett's tableau show. The ladies were dressed in '30s ruffles, polka dots and flowy crepe de chine. Lovely they were, too, although being quite daring having sneaked out to the gazebo for a smoke.
The 20th century retro glamour theme is very strong and cigarettes are showing up as styling accessories. Picture clothes evocative of the glamour heyday of Marlene Dietrich, Lauren Bacall, Coco Chanel and Zelda Fitzgerald and the picture is seen through a nicotine haze. We assume this generation's models didn't learn to inhale or it would have stunted their growth.
Is there salvation from all this wickedness? In the fashion gospel according to Donna Karan there is.
She tore open her DKNY show with the Gospel Choir of the New York City Church of Christ asking "Are You Ready for a Miracle?" and sent out models in Southern church lady Sunday wear. The miracle seems to be that young women who made a religion of rumple and grunge may be ready to dress up. The city-smart turnouts were finished with hats, heels, purses and little white crocheted gloves. Praise be.