NEW YORK — Pouf skirts were far from the only game in town this week as designers here showed their spring styles. In fact, though Bill Blass and Oscar de la Renta offered some ornamental evening outfits with full skirts propped by petticoats, the overwhelming winners in their collections (and in every one else's) were short, slim styles carved into curvy shapes that follow the body and don't make women look like dancing dolls.
At De la Renta, a standout suit was a lightly fitted one-button jacket with nipped waistline, small back peplum and a slim skirt that stopped just above the knee. He showed it in black or white silk for dinner, in black-and-white silk tweed or checks for daytime. For formal evenings, ruffles and bright colors ran rampant on a variety of slim cloque dresses edged in frills and on petticoated full-skirt dresses with brilliantly beaded strapless tops or bolero jackets.
The very social audience here included Nancy Kissinger, Marella Agnelli, Blaine Trump and Nan Kempner. They sat stone-faced through the puffed-up fantasy clothes but smiled warmly for all the rest.
The black-and-white theme showed up at Blass and everywhere else in town, in checks, plaids, tweeds and solids. Red-and-white checks were favorites too, as were sherbet pastels and outrageously bright combinations of color (purple with orange, hot pink with coral).
Daytime looks at Calvin Klein, a master of minimal sportswear, include black-and-white check suits with cropped jackets and short, slim, high-waist skirts.
Klein went heavy on evening wear this season, featuring embroidered taupe faille dinner suits with fitted waistline jackets and slim skirts. His long or short slip-top dresses were of silver lace. Some were so minimal that they couldn't even contain the models' not-too-abundant flesh. Klein's romantic flower prints (roses or carnations on cream-colored silk) were shaped into dresses and separates with gathered skirts that wafted gracefully to hemlines well above the knee.
The Ralph Lauren show was an oasis of calm in the week of shows, with nothing too tight or too short, and everything gently shaped.
Lauren's suits were highlights in shades of pale gray, rose, green or tan. Jackets have small shawl collars, narrow shoulders, nipped waistlines. They are shown with matching trousers or slim skirts just above the knee. Or with pale chiffon skirts for evening. His summer-weight sweater sets feature long cardigans that look more like unstructured jackets, with inset belts at the back and matching slim skirts. These too are shown with pants, printed silk skirts or pale chiffon skirts for evening. Another well-received evening look is composed of pale pastel, taffeta, two-tier skirts with wide satin or grosgrain sashes and halter tops or sweaters.
A major proponent of the short, bright, slim and sexy look is Carolyne Roehm, whose dresses looked molded for the models' bodies and whose hemlines often ended at mid-thigh or higher. Roehm showed black dresses with undulating insets of white across the bosom or the hips; brilliantly colored bolero jackets over equally bright dresses (cherry jackets with hot pink sheaths, for example), and simple black shifts with insets of see-through stretch lace and blazing flower prints, not to mention clinging dresses with streamers streaming from top to bottom and short shifts made of feathers and paillettes. Colors of flaming red, hot pink, orange, fuchsia and acid green were used in what the program called "untamed combinations." Despite all the sensational touches, Roehm's shapes were exceptionally sleek and simple.
In the middle of all these high-powered shows by hotshot designers, newcomer Marc Jacobs showed his spring line. Jacobs, 24, offered multicolored striped blazers so long that they covered the striped miniskirts beneath, red-and-white gingham check stretch strapless dresses with oversize gingham shirts instead of jackets, bright yellow T-shirts with black stretch bandage-size skirts and classic Madras blazer jackets made glossy by an all-over coating of clear sequins.
Jacobs' grandmother was on hand to spur him on, and another up-and-coming designer, Michael Kors, conscripted his mother to greet guests at the door. Kors' look is more subdued and rich, but also very young and sleek. Loose poplin shirts and slouchy sateen blazers team with very short stretch tube skirts, with tailored shorts and draped front pants. Boleros, in white or coffee color, top one-piece short suits or short, slim strapless dresses in white or black. Fabrics are stretch poplin, linen, suede, silk burlap or satin--all in subtle shades of peach, rose, vanilla, coffee, black and white.
Bob Mackie leaped into fantasy land for spring with stripes, dots, peplums, full skirts, pointed petal-like hemlines, bustles, petticoats, lace and frills. And, of course, the glittery beading for which he is famous.
The numbers that brought down the house, however, were short, slim and slinky dresses totally beaded in blue to simulate denim, including the overstitching. A navy beaded jacket looked exactly like the jean jackets everyone wears around town, except that it was for formal occasions.