NEW YORK — Many of the 81 members of the Designers' Collective, who showed their spring/summer '87 lines here recently, are making clothes that look as if they should come with passports in the pockets.
Jeffrey Banks takes a trip down the Nile with matching hieroglyphic-print shirts and shorts, mummy and pharaoh-print ties and a crew sweater with an Egyptian motif at the neck. He works in sand colors from the Sahara and shades of Memphis pink, lapis blue and Alexandrian teal. There are also suits here in Moroccan tile patterns translated to lightweight wool worsted.
Gauguin's South Pacific is Andrew Fezza's inspiration. A short-sleeve camp shirt (one of the big items of the season) is in the tropical impressionist mode, as is a cotton/rayon-blend sweater. Fezza works in fluid, blended fabrics such as viscose/linen and silk/linen, which are perfect for packing. So are his unconstructed jackets with no lining and a true natural shoulder. Shades of persimmon, mulberry, indigo and crimson carry the true allure of the islands.
Sal Cesarani also dreams of the South Pacific, but his man is more likely to go by yacht than go native. He favors sun-drenched, faded pastels for preppie-in-port looks. His nautical motifs have a new nattiness. One Fair Isle sweater--a typical cold-weather item--comes in red, white and blue cotton. Another sweater, with signal flags bordering the neck and cuffs, is a slick look for would-be sailors.
A map of the Ngong Hills from "Out of Africa" is the motif of rayon shirts at British Khaki. Designer Robert Lighton offers another short-sleeve model covered with Kenya travel stickers as well as khaki items for safari buffs. Bianculli's Victor de la Rosa says his bush-print camp shirts and Bermudas are also "out of Africa and into the streets." His pastel, awning-stripe cotton sport jackets and pants, however, have a Dick-Diver-on-the-French-Riviera look to them.
Sailboats in the harbor of the Caribbean island of Tortola are part of Laura Pearson's dream vacation, translated onto her hand-knit sweaters for her Tijuca label. She's also making socks this season and sweaters full of palm-frond and tropical-fish designs.
Another reaction to the passion for travel may be the emphasis on knitwear in many collections. Nothing moves more easily than knits, and they don't have to be packed in tissue paper to travel well.
For a second season with his own label, Bill Robinson continues his innovative exploration of the modern quality of knits. He does a suit jacket in cotton ribbed jersey with his signature bold-shoulder look and ensembles of lightweight cotton knit cardigan, shorts and tank-top in monotone shades of butter, pink or cream. A cotton boucle, zip-front sweater is stitched like a football jersey. Robinson also explores terry cloth in sophisticated items, such as zip cardigan sweaters and zip polo shirts.
Jhane Barnes takes knits seriously as well, with cotton knit pants that look totally unrelated to workout gear. They have a constructed waist and pleats. She calls them "the urban sweat pants." Barnes also does an unconventional, unconstructed sport jacket with button cuffs, like a shirt sleeve, for easy rolling. Her ribbon-stripe, linen shirts with elbow-length sleeves are some of the best of the short-sleeve look that is a hot summer option.
L.A.'s Nancy Heller does the unconstructed look in an even more casual vein by prewashing the linen she uses in shirt jackets, roll-collar shirts and roomy pants. Her black cotton sweater with Roman numerals for 1987 in white across the chest is one of the stand-out novelty sweaters of the season.
The loosely constructed but elegantly appointed sport jackets in tiny houndstooth linen checks at Shamask are designed to wear with jeans, khakis, flannels or matching trousers. A summer blazer comes in navy wool crepe with "no lining at all. We just finished the seams by hand," says a company spokesman.
If Robert Stock's woven shirts for the ultimate tourist--in camera or sunglass prints--didn't get buyers in the mood for the summer travel look, Linda Silver of Roy Face Care for Men certainly did. She put a tanning machine in her showroom to help promote her new "sun primer" and "sun accelerator" tanning lotions.
Other Collective thoughts for spring/summer: Basco's barbecue-print, 1950s rayon shirts; Christian Kenth's Lotto numbers-print sportswear in the important black-and-white color story of the season; Susan Horton's cool-looking silk-and-rayon texture ties; E. G. Smith's array of socks in colors even the rainbow would envy; Joe Boxer's novelty underwear, including his "Joe Von Bulow" striped silk boxers; Nigel Preston's hand-painted linen tops featuring bits of frescoes from Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci; Carbonell's outstanding youth-oriented collection, including oversize polo shirts in offbeat color blocks, black denim suits, collarless long-length plaid blazers and skyscraper-print cabana sets.