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FASHION : Mirror, Mirror for the Fall


That was after Mizrahi showed his kitschy totem-pole dress of embroidered flannel and an elegantly informal Hopi princess outfit with long, full silk moire skirt and a blouse of embroidered chamois with taffeta poet's sleeves.

Before the show, Mizrahi described this as his American heritage collection. Black biker jackets, including one for the bride who wore it with a black tulle dance skirt, made it into Mizrahi's lexicon as well. So did fringed leather cowgirl jackets mixed with taffeta skirts and sheer black turtleneck tops with black lace bras showing through. (He had dinner with Madonna the last time he was in Los Angeles.)

Mizrahi is a trend setter, right down to the shoes. The pastel suede mules with pilgrim buckle toes by Manolo Blahnik that he showed with his last collection were featured in every New York fashion magazine this spring. For fall, he used Blahnik's mid-heel ghillies in brown leather for day and brown silk for night.

Randolph Duke also worked black biker's leather into his collection. Duke, who has made his mark among newer talents over the last year, put black leather with short, puffy, black-watch plaid chiffon skirts for evening.

Supplying the comic relief of the week was Bob Mackie. His anything-goes collection opened with an outfit that said it all: rosary beads over a black prom dress and a white sequined wimple. Cole Porter music accompanied the show and, when "Too Darned Hot" started playing, a dozen models in fire-red dresses whipped down the runway. Black and white body-clinging dresses for day and modified versions of the beaded evening extravaganzas Mackie designs for the stage rounded out the collection.

Asian-born New York-based Zang Toi has been building his culturally eclectic style during his first year in business. From the beginning, he has displayed his appreciation for French couture as well traditional Asian fashion.

In his new fall line, Toi showed his affinity for Karl Lagerfeld with violet-and-grey oversized check suits with wide velvet cuffs worn Lagerfeld-style with over-the-knee suede pirate boots.

His love for Lacroix was clear in a series of hyper-feminine pastel wool suits piped in silver lace and worn with the pie plate-shaped hats Lacroix has also used.

His own ingredients showed that Toi has talent and promise: a hooded lemon-yellow coat with leopard-print lining, rib-knit poor boy sweaters with fur cuffs and a fitted little suit with his own signature jacket cut asymmetrically in front.

He took chances with his evening wear: Chinese red embroidered mini-skirts were covered with long, gold lace curtain-like panels and worn with flower-embroidered cardigan sweaters. It didn't work. There was too much going on.

But after a week of nothing-ventured, nothing-gained collections, Toi's mistakes were reason for hope. Never has it been more apparent that fashion designing is a creative act. Without it, there wouldn't even be anything to copy.

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