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Glitches dim glitter on fashion runways

Monday, February 19, 2001

By LaMont Jones, Post-Gazette Fashion Editor

NEW YORK -- All productions, including fashion shows, have glitches, things that go wrong due to human error or circumstances beyond the organizers' control. But there comes a point when snafus are so severe that they, not the event, become the story. So it was last week when Anand Jon, an up-and-coming designer popular among young, twentysomething celebrities, presented his fall-winter 2001 collection during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, which ended Friday.

With shows scheduled every hour on the hour, they generally begin up to a half hour late to allow guests to get from one venue to another. But an hour and 10 minutes late is a sign of disorganization that no amount of pre-show mood music can overcome.

Wednesday's evening from hell began when guests, primarily friends and relatives of the models and designers, were bounced between security at two entrances to the show's venue, the World Wrestling Federation sports bar and club beneath the WWF retail store in Times Square. At one door, those who were able to beg, lie, negotiate or flirt their way in gained entry more easily than invited guests whose names were supposed to be on a list. At the front door around the corner, invited guests without seat assignments waited to see if they would be allowed in later

Inside, rows of chairs were arranged around a raised runway. No one with Muse PR, the group handling things, seemed to know if there was a seating chart. The show was to begin at 9 p.m., but a list of guests and seating assignments didn't arrive at the check-in table until nearly 9:30. By that time, most of the 150 seats along the runway and in the VIP section onstage had been seized, so a number of arguments over seats erupted.

A steady stream of people trampled across the uncovered runway, which usually is protected by plastic until the show begins so that debris will not cause models to slip. A worker swept the runway clean, but when the show still didn't begin, it became a thoroughfare again. The show finally began at about 10:10 p.m., after several shouts from guests and the bank of photographers at the end of the runaway to start the show. When it did begin, all one could think was, "Please, end the pain." Anand Jon showed more than 100 looks, the most by any designer during the nine-day Fashion Week. He said the collection, "ACE," was inspired by the ancient practice of divination and "draws from the textures, colors and symbols of sculpture, stained glass techniques and phoenix iconography while the silhouettes contour median points on the human body." That sounded intriguing, but most of the clothes were anything but. He used a lot of silk blends, distressed leather and cashmere, primarily in blue, crimson, magenta and earth tones. The clothes were costumey and might appeal to certain younger crowds, from genie-like skirts for her to leather pants for him. And it seemed half-done, with loose threads on several pieces and a roll of tape stuck to a giant fur coat. The final outfit, a sexed-up, off-white wedding gown with windows for the bride's nipples, was simply ugly. Another problem was Anand Jon's poor use of non-models along with professionals. Used judiciously, celebrities can enhance a show. But this one had too many, from boy band Collective Soul to actress twins Tia and Tamera Mow, who donned hideous green and black ball gowns. Worst of all were two daughters of a wealthy hotelier, who clunked down the runway with neither celebrity nor skill. Unfortunately, Anand Jon's big smile at the end of the show couldn't change the fact that the show was a big bust.

Speaking of big bust, Monica Lewinsky sat in a front-row seat Thursday morning at the Jill Stuart show. She wore a black skirt, black fishnet stockings and a top that prominently displayed her ample cleavage. The Stuart collection was functional but boring and sometimes frumpy. She worked primarily with black, white and navy. Some of her better looks were a two-tone black stripes wool vest with matching pants and a black wool cape with matching chiffon skirt and ski pants.

Recaps of other designers who ended the week:

High-waisted pants and stark, androgynous looks for women and fitted, monochromatic suited looks for men dominated Helmut Lang's collection. He worked primarily from a palette of black and gray. Highlights: Texturized black leather coats, his-and-hers black and brown paw-print coats and long black coats with leather detailing around high necks.

Ralph Lauren presented an assortment of provocative, irresistibly luxurious clothes for women in lean silhouettes in cream, brown, greens, burgundy and black. Fred Leighton diamond jewelry accented evening looks. Highlights: A spectacular black paisley beaded georgette gown, a moss cashmere long-sleeve turtleneck dress with an olive cashmere cable-knit coat, and a brown wool-cashmere coat teamed with an ebony cashmere turtleneck and camel, brown and purple cashmere glen plaid pants.

Inspired by Romaine Brooks, an American artist who celebrated heroic femininity, Carmen Marc Valvo used a smoky palette of black, ivory, pewter and storm gray to create a stylish, sexy autumn wardrobe that included leather corsets and cummerbunds. Highlights: A black and cream full "Cadillac" skirt with a black beaded cashmere halter, an olive suede lieutenant jacket with a sequined lace camouflage skirt, and two breathtaking tri-ombre silk chiffon gowns.

Donald Deal is known for dressing celebrities such as Kathie Lee Gifford in elegant special-occasion gowns. The 44-outfit collection he showed seemed at times like the work of a senior class home ec project, but there were some hot looks. Highlights: An amber crepe satin print bustier gown with squared crystal embroidery, and a brown, blue and gold striped taffeta blouse and sash with velvet full-leg pants.

There was a Native American influence in the Coogi collection for men and women. The looks were definitely Arctic chic, warm, sexy and young. Highlights: For her, a honey-colored shearling and suede jacket with gold print over a toffee printed leather miniskirt. For him, a mustard-colored printed leather and shearling collar jacket over a toffee laser-cur pony and suede waist coat and bronze leather and suede jeans.

For his "Last Tango in Paris," Lloyd Klein served up an outstanding collection of dramatic looks for women. There were intriguing geometric collars, large cuffs on jackets, plunging cowl necks and up-to-there skirt slits. Highlights: A silver foxtail fur wrap over a tailored gray pantsuit, a black leather one-shoulder asymmetrical dress and a black velvet dress with a plunging neckline, black floral appliques and a wide black patent leather belt.

Another splendid collection was presented by Chado Ralph Rucci. His looks were clean and streamlined, and they made impressive use of color against neutrals. Highlights: A black water-repellent duchesse satin parka and skirt, a neon coral coat with a white cashmere turtleneck and pants, a pumpkin-colored cashmere coat and skirt with circle patterns and a matching cashmere sweater and scarf, a violet cashmere skirt and matching scarf with a black cashmere shell, and a regal yet sensual black matte jersey pleated toga.

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