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Simple and Chic : . . . May Be the Spark of New York Designers' Spring Collections

October 25, 1985|BETTIJANE LEVINE | Times Fashion Editor

Bill Blass is "sick of glitz."

He's had his fill of flash. And he's not the only one.

As New York designers prepare to show their spring collections in the next two weeks, most say they've reverted to what might be called traditional, American simplicity.

Blass describes his upcoming collection in three words: "Simple, simple, simple." Short skirts, "but a bit more modest than above the knee," he says. Close-to-the-body shapes, "but not plastered to the body," he adds. "My designs are conservative for spring," Blass confides, "but they are not empty conservative designs. They are in bright colors, and they are very American."

Perry Ellis, whose clothes bear no similarity to those of Blass, is apparently thinking similar thoughts. When asked to describe his spring collection, he said "Very, very simple." The most important thing about it, he went on, is that "everything is thinner, narrower, closer to the body. It's not tight, but it's certainly much more fitted than what I've done before."

Ellis' jackets are short, his skirts are long or short and his waistlines are defined. "In fact," he explains, "everything has a lot of shape." His palette features indigo blue and lots of brights.

Donna Karan, whose simple body stockings and wrap-on skirts were a huge success for fall, is sticking with that theme for spring.

"I've traveled around the country since then," she says. "I've found out why the fall collection did so well. It's because women know they look most spectacular in clothes that are flexible and sensual. And in clothes that have longevity."

Karan will offer "a sophisticated monotone look for spring" in sheer wools and heavyweight silks, much of it in dark navy, accented with black. She will show dresses "that 'scarf' " around the body. And coordinates that can be added to--or not." But everything, she emphasizes, will have simplicity, sensuality and "purity of line."

Even Ralph Lauren says he has a new simplicity for spring. His faithful followers (and copiers) will find a new kind of Lauren dress, he says.

It's "soft and elegant, silky and delicate, very modern in its simplicity but also very 1930s." It's a look that women who have been wearing his clothes have not had from him before, he explains, a "simple look that can be worn without having to be explained."

And what could be more simple than a floor-length navy crepe sarong skirt with an ivory bead-trimmed T-shirt and cardigan to match? That's one of Oscar de la Renta's evening statements for spring. For daytime, De la Renta will show slim, classic daytime outfits in navy and white, pastels and checks. Everything is closer to the body and everything is just at the knee.

At Anne Klein, designer Louis Dell'Olio will feature "tailored softness," he says. Suit jackets have strong shoulders, interesting belted waistlines, and skirts are slim and short. His matte jersey separates, he adds, are "an easy and comfortable kind of suit-dressing."

Geoffrey Beene also belts his "neat" navy or black-and-white spring things, he says. But his belts are at the hips.

Norma Kamali is one New York designer whose clothes do not sound all that simple. They're described as "Victorian, turn of the century, very feminine and accessorized with lace collars and bibs or corsets."

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