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Modern romance

Summing up a fashion theme, Marc Jacobs says it with sportswear.

September 13, 2006|Booth Moore | Times Staff Writer

New York — MARC JACOBS' runway shows are a form of theater that exists somewhere between style and culture. That's not to say he doesn't set trends -- he does, more than any other American designer. But he also distills the collective mood better than anyone else. And on the evening of Sept. 11, the message was love. He created a dreamy backdrop of rolling hills, and a grass-green runway was elevated over a pool of mint candies. Models glided around the scenery like ethereal beings with Pachelbel's Canon, that lullaby of a wedding melody, as a soundtrack.

Romanticism is an emerging theme here with white baby-doll, tent and sack dresses on nearly every runway, and lots of eyelet and lace. But Jacobs made the theme modern by marrying it with sportswear. And a constellation of celebrities (Kanye West, Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore, 50 Cent, Kate Bosworth, Eva Mendes, Dita Von Teese, Roger Federer, Sofia Coppola) came out to see him do it.

The colors were neutral whites and beiges, with the occasional shot of black or gray. And the play with proportions and layering that defined the fall collection -- and the fall season -- continued. A cashmere tank with multiple hems like layered pastry peeked out from a cropped suede motorcycle jacket, worn with gauzy pants under a skirt of silvery sequined dots.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday September 19, 2006 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 0 inches; 32 words Type of Material: Correction
Carolina Herrera: A review of the Carolina Herrera fashion show in Wednesday's Calendar section stated that the designer's Los Angeles boutique on Melrose Place would open in November. It is open now.

Cropped khaki pants with doves embroidered on the side were sweet and serene. But full-cut harem and side-button tulip styles, some sashed at the waist, could be a harder sell. Giorgio Armani was mocked roundly for trying them a few seasons back. And when Max Mara did them, they didn't take either.

As an alternative, there were plenty of wearable, if unremarkable, cut-up silk jersey T-shirt dresses, a couple with chalky stripes and full sleeves, billowing like sails in the wind, and the occasional elongated smock coat lending some slouch.

But the best dresses wrapped the body in a cloud of organza and lace, worn with sandals with faceted stones for heels so that models walked, as the song goes, with diamonds on the soles of their shoes.

Gobstopper-size jewels were sprinkled throughout -- on necklaces, patchwork python handbags, wristbands, hair clips and caps made of metallic Tyvek, which should keep the cash registers humming. Metallics shot through the collection, too -- silvery kangaroo leather trench and pea coats, a Tyvek button-down shirt and lame blouses that shone like bicycle reflectors.

But by far the biggest treat was a model coming down out of the hills, in a pretty bomber jacket made of shirred white tulle -- like a daisy in the barrel of a gun.

It all made quite a contrast to the city-in-shards backdrop and urban vagabonds of Jacobs' fall show.

A palette more fall than spring

At Proenza Schouler, Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez went in an entirely different direction, touching on surf wear and Herve Leger's severe 1980s designs. The palette was more fall than spring, with earthy olives, yellows, grays, khakis and white. The skintight bandage skirts that were the foundation of the collection (again, a tough sell) were offset by enough full-cut jackets to keep customers happy, one in a charcoal and olive silk moire diamond pattern, another in a glossy black quilted silk with patent leather trim.

For night, a simple sheath was stunning with multicolored sequins in a geometric pattern. And strappy sandals, with wood platforms and conical heels, were fierce. But the best looks were sporty basics -- short, khaki A-line skirts with a front pleat, worn with striped web belts, a boxy beaded jacket or a linen pea coat, rubberized to create sheen.

Another designer using unusual treatments is L.A.'s Juan Carlos Obando. A star of L.A. Fashion Week, he decided to decamp to New York this season (like so many other talented Southern California designers) but skipped the runway. Instead, he presented his collection in a hotel room, in order to meet with buyers and the press in a more intimate setting, he said, and to explain his techniques. And when he opened his door on Monday morning, Saks Fifth Avenue was waiting.

And why not? Obando's collection was full of grown-up pieces that worked well together, including black and chocolate brown linen boleros and a khaki shawl collar coat, all washed with silicone (it's not just for breast implants anymore). The treatment brought softness, shine and a moldable texture to the garments.

Obando explained how his black silk sundress was pleated in two different directions so that it hugs the curves of the body. And what appears to be a crisp black cotton button-down shirt comes with a crinkly silk scarf attached to the inside of the collar for a specific reason. When tied in front, it prevents that ugly pulling that happens in the front of so many buttoned shirts, he said.

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