Spring 2007 Fashion Preview: What Hit the Runways at Olympus Fashion Week in NYC?

The weather had yet to turn cool but the crowds were already thinking about spring at Olympus Fashion Week held earlier this month in New York. The ready-to-wear runway collections heralded a turn towards softer voluminous silhouettes in neutral palettes with the occasional metallic shimmer. Color does appear to be making a comeback however, with designers abandoning the dour hues of the winter lines to highlight frocks in shades of pink, yellow and green.

Fashion pundits suggest the spring lines signify a return to romance, with show after show featuring a-line and baby doll dresses, empire waist gowns, draped and layered tunics and swing coats. Indeed the overall look is softer – but hang on to your skinny pants, mod tops and gold and silver pieces as they will easily fit with the “new” spring look. Highlights from my favorite fashion week designers are included below.

Diane Von Furstenberg’s collection was grounded in black and white but featured liberal use of color in splashes of pink and yellow. Dresses ranged from the iconic wrap style to easy shifts with square necklines to animal print dresses in strong hues of blue and green. Tunics of the “is that a long top or short dress?” variety and slim capri pants rounded out the fashion offerings. A simple white a-line dress with a prominent ladybug formed from splotches of black and red was less whimsical than artistic – and memorable either way.

Luella Bartley’s line reminded that black is still in and even mod can go soft for spring. The collection featured slim lines and abundant layering. Letter graphics, stripes and splashes (literally) of color accented the minimalist looks. Bow belts and the bubble skirts added femininity and, dare I say, ROMANCE to the collection. Luella blends fun with fashion and it works.

Karen Walker claimed inspiration from the English war wives who kept the farms running and home fires burning while their men were on the front lines. Her interpretation: slouchy trousers and loosely fitted shorts paired with puffed sleeves tops and jackets. A touch of whimsy was present in the floral prints and bloomers. It was also refreshing to see blue as the prominent color in a collection. A personal show favorite – an Anorak parka – fashionably practical!

Carolina Herrera’s collection appeared extraordinarily wearable – flowing pants and shifts represent the effortless elegance done so well by this designer. Toile and striped prints livened up gracefully minimalist lines in pinks, whites and creams. The gowns were not exactly in the minimalist vein but will surely be sought after by myriad fashionistas.

Marc Jacobs’ collection, on the other hand, may not be considered as wearable. The cream and white ensembles had a freshness about them which made them appealing. Metallic and colored sequins added vibrance to night-time looks. Overall the collection was soft but modern with tired skirts and deconstructed layers adding a dream-like element to the ensembles. Unfortunately, too much fabric in too many layers risks appearing rag-bin costume-y rather than ready-to-wear (even on exquisite models). The must haves of Mr. Jacobs’ collection include a short t-shirt dress (so comfortable but chic), a luscious cream a-line double-breasted coast and a silvery trench/bomber jacket.

Donna Karan’s runway show featured a striking wrap dress with deep neckline that was both sexy and sophisticated, unfortunately it may have been the best of her collection. As with her colleagues, the palette ranged from black, navy, greys and taupes then cream and white. Layers of billowing fabric were wrapped with woven double-looped belts and necklines either “plunged” or “cowled.” The effect worked well in an ethereal cream sheer gown, but much of the collection lacked a sense of shape. I love Donna Karan but even this season there is a difference between “free and floating” and maternity wear!
Vera Wang worked her usual magic and offered perhaps the most romantic of the spring 2007 collections that I reviewed. Working in primarily black and white, slim pants were paired with blouson tops boasting exquisite detailing at the neck and sleeve. A metallic gold floor length gown with oversized pockets was cheeky but still glamorous. My ultimate spring fashion wish, however, is for a closet full of her empire waist dresses with delicate but opulent layers – perfect for summer cocktail parties and weddings.

Narciso Rodriguez always takes the concept of minimalism to a higher level. To him it is more than a seasonal buzzword – it is his signature. The runway show featured simple, straightforward shapes with slits in unexpected places (below the collarbone or the shoulder) that were eye-catching without being gimmicky. Shift dresses in black, white and pink and a modern twist on the peplum jacket were collection standouts. My show favorite was a black patent coat – delicious!

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