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Fashion Week Opens With DKNY, Beene and Klein

October 31, 1994

NEW YORK (AP) _ Gisele Toscano looked positively proper in DKNY’s demure ’40s-style suit and church hat.

Then came those devil-made-me-do-it killer heels and baby doll anklets. Add her crimson kisser and painted nails, and praise the Lord, this fallen woman was up for a scarlet letter.

Next morning, mega-model Toscano quick-changed into a California beach chick, in Geoffrey Beene’s whimsical watermelon-print jump suit, accessorized with a beach ball.

Halloween? Hardly. It’s Fashion Week, and designers have stitched up spring finery fanciful enough for a bewitching costume party.

Beene raised the curtain Monday with a tribute to seaside Santa Monica. (But the real drama started beforehand, as you glimpsed beneath the curtain the odd mix of ballet dancers’ bare tiptoed feet and the stiletto heels of models).

Richard Tyler, in his third season as head designer for Anne Klein, put a sexy spin on retro-glamour. And DKNY, the opener of the week, revisited the sizzle of the South and the heyday of Hollywood.

Beene, ever the innovator - who else makes jackets from horsehair? - introduced his clothes on models and dancers trained by Doug Varone, a choreographer of modern dance.

″I’m through with runways,″ said Beene. ″There’s a lot of freedom in my clothes, and it comes through best in a theater rather than a measured, regimented catwalk.″

True, with no shoulder or side seams, linings or interfacings, Beene’s graceful black gowns are made for the motion of music.

The collection opened with stretchy tunics that could be bathing suit cover-ups, and bra-top dresses like swim wear.

″I’ve always thought the bathing suit is the single best piece of clothing in the world,″ said Beene. ″What it’s designed for, it functions as. It’s so little fabric that says so much.″

Speaking of little fabric, the Anne Klein show was big on tiny togs, including polo shirts worn as abbreviated dresses and cropped beaded sweaters. Face it, a show whose program credits The Wonderbra won’t put photographers to sleep.

Tyler likes his luncheon ladies sexy, so he’s dressing them in short, hourglass-enhancing suits, skyscraper heels, and skinny waist-cinching belts. It’s a world of glam and Garbo, and even jeans take 3-inch heels.

Six years ago, Donna Karan introduced DKNY, her lower-priced line, because she couldn’t find a pair of jeans. Today, DKNY is the company’s best money- maker.

Karan opened with a foot-stomping, hand-clapping gospel choir that rang in knee-length ’40s rayon print dresses, sultry ″Butterfield 8″ slip dresses, ’60s sheaths and red patent high-heels.

Only on the runways will you see mechanic-turned-model Jenny Shimizu in a sweet church-lady retro suit, her arm tattooed with a curvy babe straddling a wrench.

Meanwhile, if a wedding is in your future, Karan showed (machine washable 3/8) bridal gowns made from the same white bonded paper as Fed Ex envelopes. Guaranteed to get you to the church on time.

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