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{SHOPPING} / THE BIG DEAL

Everyday Vera

September 09, 2007|Melissa Magsaysay | Times Staff Writer

SHE'S already got mattresses, wedding dresses, hotel rooms, perfume and stationery under her bejeweled grosgrain belt. Now, Vera Wang is romancing the masses with a soup-to-nuts cheap-chic line for Kohl's called Simply Vera by Vera Wang.

The line, which debuts in stores and at Kohls.com today, runs from apparel and accessories to bedding and bath. And it uses the same design ingredients as Wang's existing empire of high-end goods. Dark, moody and voluminous don't usually describe the cheap and cheery world of designer collaborations -- but this time, they do.

With a smoky palette of navy, black, ash and dusty lavender, and a nod to Eastern Europe, the Kohl's line is straight out of Wang's fall runway collection. There are several no-brainer party dresses, such as a flattering black chiffon number with an empire waist and perfectly feminine lavender sash for $88. A navy and gray, color-block baby-doll with rich-looking jewels at the neck, also $88, would make a great holiday cocktail dress; and the forgiving silhouette and longer hemline tacks a few more years onto the age group who could wear it.

A short-sleeve textured coat for $128 is a great deal for the office. It has the sharp appeal of a classic trench, but in a richer, nubby fabric. A dressy anorak, also $128, in a sheeny satin would add gloss to any ensemble (but it could definitely do with a lining). The $68 gold bubble skirt looks about as good as a similar skirt by Michael Kors.

Among an array of everyday staples, the three-quarter sleeve, slouchy V-necks take the cake for best basic. The sweaters, $48, look good layered over a tight-fitting long sleeve top, and the offbeat colors such as mustard and amethyst stand out among the sooty fall shades.

But the romance is over when it comes to accessories. Cocktail rings -- at $150, among the most expensive items in the line -- don't have the heft or interest of good costume jewelry. The "Signature Satchel," which is more of a frame-style shoulder bag, has a nice vintage shape. But the wavy "SV" logo pattern, tightly repeated all over the nylon bag, is busy and overdone.

The classic, high-heeled Mary Jane, however, will look good for another fall to come, and two seasons' worth of shoe for $68 is a real value.

Romance is the key when it comes to Wang's aesthetic, and she certainly doesn't hold back here. Her love of satin, brocade and tulle shines through in this line, though with not such a luxurious hand to the fabric. But we can deal with "scratchy" at these prices.

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melissa.magsaysay@latimes.com

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