NEW YORK — What a relief. Calvin Klein didn't have ruffles, bubbles or flounces in his fall collection. In fact, his daytime sporty shapes are so clean and sharply etched, so linear and modern that models wearing them looked like elegant walking graphic designs.
The basic scene for day was outlined in dark separates, either cashmere or stretch wool. Leggings-like pants with high waistlines and short, slim skirts were topped by matching turtleneck sweaters, also of stretch wool or cashmere.
Above these opulent versions of body stockings floated a variety of brilliantly colored double-faced cashmere or silk coats and jackets. These were shown with dark tights and above-the-knee, flat suede boots so that the division between legs and short skirts all but disappeared. Klein's control of fabric, color and shape was total.
His suit looks, in red barathea, black-and-white bird's-eye wool tweed or black stretch twill, featured long, sculptural jackets that curved in at the waist and ended below the derriere, above matching short skirts. These were shown with silk blouses or cashmere tops.
For evening, Klein dipped into black velvet and cream or black lace for slim, body-hugging silhouettes, either long or short, always shown with hair pulled back and no jewelry. And his silk portrait-neckline blouses with high-waist bouffant silk skirts, in such color combinations as bronze, sapphire and amber, had an opulence and grace that combined the Old World with the new.
Klein's lush yet sleek look was well received by the audience of buyers, who perhaps have had their fill of ditsy ruffles and frills for fall.
Bill Blass was one of the frilly types. The man simply couldn't pile enough bubbles, bows and flounces onto his models, one of whom wore a very short pouf skirt made entirely of silk roses. Others appeared in thigh-high trapeze dresses, short slim evening dresses with bands of mink around the hips, or short white dinner shifts with black bows festooning the sleeves from shoulders to wrists.
This unexpectedly ornamental twist in Blass' design direction amazed some onlookers, distracting them from the elegant black basics also in the show. A pretty, light-blue-and-brown tweed-plaid jacket over a checked silk blouse and slim skirt, for example, was vintage Blass. But how could it compete with the vision of a model in tweedy brown-and-white cuffed shorts, which seemed startling coming from a designer whose client list includes the distinguished likes of Nancy Kissinger, Pat Buckley and Barbara Walters? Blass obviously tried to have some fun with fashion and should be applauded for taking the risk.
Carolyne Roehm's fall showing was a social event. An entire section of the huge salon at the Essex House Hotel was roped off for her Blue Book clients and friends. So many showed up that they were begging for seats from buyers and press.
Here too, the emphasis was on opulence in the extreme. Roehm's shapes are simple, clean and cut above the knee. Charcoal cashmere trench coats, lined in leopard print, topped simple cashmere dresses. Champagne-color alpaca trench coats went over chocolate cashmere shifts. Fox collars on moss-green cashmere suit jackets and pave "diamond" accents on sleek, short black velvet dinner dresses. Roehm's real knockouts were the long, strapless, velvet evening dresses with sweetheart necklines and slim curvaceous shapes.
But women who buy these clothes need a variety of glittery gowns for their hectic party schedules, and Roehm provided the spectrum--from gold metallic brocade to white hammered satin and black velvet with Lurex or sequins. It was a sparkly event.