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Fall '08 styles at New York Fashion Week: the '70s are back

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The fourth day of New York Fashion Week debuted few daring designs even from designers known for such work. With few exceptions, the overwhelming theme was "old is new" and that the '70s were even more in fashion than the shows on Sunday suggested. Among the designers to unveil their Fall 2008 lines on Monday were Oscar de la Renta, Carolina Herrera, Betsey Johnson, Proenza Schouler and a rejuvenated Halston line, under the direction of designer Marco Zanini.

Both global warming and the slowing economy have been cited as reasons for the overwhelming use of lighter fabrics over heavier attire. Also, retro designs and continuing trends have been used in effort to save money, like the tights that were expected to go out of fashion this year. Even in the glamorous world of high-end fashion, money has been tight, and with the world economies in a collective downturn, major designers have been more wary of continuing to churn out the stream of couture designs that past Fashion Weeks have seen.

Proenza Schouler's show took the '70s retro theme to a fever pitch, liberally using bows on designs and debuting more retro-era wide-legged pants that were first seen in Sunday's shows. Zanini's Halston label also brought back the '70s, resurrecting old designs that the founder of the line made famous. Since the designer Halston's death in 1990, many designers have tried to take the label in different directions. Zanini's unveiling on Monday brought the line back to its Studio 54 roots, while using trenchcoats, sheer fabrics, and cardigans to finish the ensembles with a modern twist.

Betsey Johnson also debuted old and new styles on Monday, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of her fashion label. Copies of her original 1978 one-piece bathing suit as well as some early 1980s fashions started off the show. Her new pieces, such as animal print leggings coupled with a short twill jacket, were perceived as very skintight and criticized for not representing more fuller figures. Johnson brushed off the criticism, noting, "It's tighter and sexier, but I still believe the girl brings the sex to the clothes...You won't look sexy in a tight, below-the-knee skirt if you don't feel good in it."

The lone daring designer for the day was Carolina Herrera, who discarded the furs she promoted in the Fall 2007 show to focus on a Peter Pan theme, with earth tones and bird feathers. To further the "flying Peter Pan" motif, models donned such designs as a chiffon dress with ostrich feathers and a taffeta gown with a feather waistband.

Oscar de la Renta opted for more traditional blacks, golds and grays, debuting lines for men and women in fabrics he is familiar with. Men were outfitted in tweed while women were fitted in dresses that experimented with embroidery and tulle, both shades of past collections.

New York Fashion Week runs until Friday. Among others, labels Badgley Mischka, Diesel, and Vivienne Tam unveil their newest collections on Tuesday.


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