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Seasoned Designer Sews Up Her Own Line

August 21, 1987|DIANE SUSTENDAL

NEW YORK — Dana Buchman is a name you'll hear more often come September. That's when her first collection hits stores and a national advertising campaign rolls out.

Buchman is not a budding ingenue. For all her gamin looks, she is a seasoned professional who had stints with Christian Dior and Ellen Tracy before signing on five years ago to do knitwear at Liz Claiborne. Now, to her surprise, the 35-year-old designer has her own line--with her own name on the label--under the auspices of the $800-million Claiborne empire.

Buchman says she had no idea her name would be on this collection, which is higher-priced than the regular Liz Claiborne line.

"It was Liz's idea to make it my own label. At first I didn't think that would make much difference, but it does. . . . It changes the way you think about the clothes, makes it more exciting, and you feel the pressure," Buchman said after the recent debut of her collection for the press.

The Buchman look includes sweaters, shirts, pants and skirts, in winter white, pastels and khaki, gray and black.

The attitude is young, with pleated and wrapped skirts that graze the ankle or skim the knee, and many long sweater sets over skirts or pants.

"I'm from Memphis, and many of the traits in this collection come out of growing up in the South," said Buchman, who lives with her husband and 8-month-old daughter in a Manhattan loft.

"I think long, loose lines are very flattering. They hide figure flaws and they're comfortable"--a necessity during the long, hot summers in Memphis. That's where she learned to wear clothes that were pretty and cool. Even in New York's winters, Buchman said, she wears lightweight, loose sweaters because of the sense of freedom they offer.

"Liz is also from the South, so I think that we are very much in tune to the needs of the Sun Belt, the types of fabrics and the colors that women there want."

The Liz Claiborne influence and organization are evident in this new collection, but it clearly stands on its own. "Liz's look is Liz's look," said Buchman. "Her clothes are more tailored and much broader in scope. I would say my clothes are different because they are softer, slouchier--and because of the prices (from $96 to $296 retail), I can use some finer grades of fabric."

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