NEW YORK — Talk about being secure in your world. Adolfo is just now showing his fall/winter, 1985, collection, rather than in April when the rest of the Seventh Avenue fashion pack do a two-week block of shows and garner publicity as a unit.
And he freely admits that the legendary Paris designer Coco Chanel is the muse who inspires his cardigan suits and little black dresses season after season.
In this collection, which he'll bring to Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills Aug. 26-31, Adolfo accessorized many of his suits with cashmere sweaters, tied casually at the neck, from a new collection by his friend, socialite-turned-designer C. Z. Guest, who sat front-row center at his show with her daughter, deb emeritus Cornelia. The show's program notes explained that the sweaters were "on loan" from designer Guest.
A certain security also comes from knowing that First Lady Nancy Reagan has Adolfo high on her list of preferred designers. In fact, the very evening after his fall show, Mrs. Reagan wore his pale-blue silk organza ball gown to attend the Dance Theatre of Harlem benefit at the Metropolitan Opera House here. First Friend, Los Angeles' Betsy Bloomingdale, also attended in Adolfo--a long, black-and-white print evening suit.
There is what you might call a feeling of top security in Adolfo's fall collection as well. In his show notes, he says: "The women who wear our clothes are influenced by the arts and themes of the day, but always with restraint. Today, the influence of India is unavoidable, but, in my case, it is expressed in colors and ornament; never in self-conscious costume."
Adolfo's message from India is interpreted in shades of vermilion, saffron and lapis lazuli. But there is nary a sari in sight. Instead, there are draped satin evening gowns in lapis lazuli, detailed with empire waists and bows in strapless, one-shoulder or deep V-neck and gathered-at-the-bodice styles.
Coats, Adolfo says, are key in his collection for fall, and the best are the clean-lined, three-quarter-length styles in his three Indian shades. No Nehrus here, however. They are double-faced and cuffed in black wool and are worn with black trousers and the C. Z. Guest cashmere sweaters tied in lieu of a scarf at the neck.
There are also coat/suits with coats that are worn over the suit as a top coat or with the skirt alone. Definitely of the rich-are-different school are the plaid knit coats trimmed and cuffed in mink and accessorized at the neck with matching mink scarfs. This is a look that takes both the security of money and of personal style to wear.
Even raincoats have secured a place in Adolfo's strong-on-coats season. His version of an upscale downpour look is a clover-pattern, cloque cire raincoat with mink collar and a gold-chain belt accenting the back. The coat has a matching skirt. There is also a rain-with-shine look: brown, gray or black shiny silk poplin raincoats faced with tweed that match a tweed suit jacket underneath and paired with a skirt of silk poplin.
Adolfo goes plaid-happy for both day and evening. In addition to the mink-trimmed coats/suits, there are plaid "lumber jackets" worn with black pants or dirndl skirts. The designer calls these his signature look. Another plaid jacket with velvet shirt collar and cuffs is shaped loosely like a man's shirt--a new look uncharacteristic of Adolfo.
Reminiscent of Chanel
The suits reminiscent of Chanel come in tweed trimmed in plaid silk Jacquard and windowpane plaid. These consist of hip-length, fitted knit jackets over silk Jacquard pleated print skirts. Plaid goes out at night in dinner suits of plaid Lurex with plaid lame taffeta cuffs and matching blouses.
Though Adolfo says his designs are restrained, the way he accessorizes his looks with jewelry by Richard Serbin and Jay Feinberg is anything but. Chains show up everywhere as either belts, necklaces, dress straps or handbag straps. A simple black knit dress or suit is often glorified with gold necklaces, brooches, bracelets, earrings, hat pins and the ubiquitous chain-strapped bag.
The designer declares that "there are no big-entrance ball gowns" in his new line. Never fear. There are definitely still alternatives available for making an entrance an event.
On the subtle side are short black knit evening dresses with gold-button and satin-bow details. They also come seamed in rhinestones or with beaded epaulets and neckline trim. Rhinestone leaf patterns spiral around long or short black slim-line numbers. There's also what you might call an ambassadress with a trompe l'oeil rhinestone sash that features a red rosette at the hip.
More lush late-show looks include the paillettes-on-lace jackets with sable, chinchilla or fox cuffs worn with chiffon blouses and satin pants. Or dinner suits in floral-patterned silk lame ottoman. Or crushed velvet short chemises trimmed in diamante rosettes. Or beaded boleros with jeweled-bow closures over black velvet columns. All big-entrance makers.
Adolfo never forgets that some of his best customers were once stars. For Hollywood nights, there are black velvet jackets with cire stars over black cire slim skirts.