NEW YORK — On Monday night, as the William Rast label, co-founded by Justin Timberlake, was preparing for its debut at the Bryant Park tents, sisters Nicky and Paris Hilton, both of whom can claim the "designer" sobriquet, sat texting in the front row. Rumored to be coming, but yet to appear, was rapper Kanye West, the aspiring designer and recent sneaker collaborator who had hit so many fashion shows this week it felt like there were counterfeits of the self-proclaimed Louis Vuitton don circulating around town.
Can there be too many celebrity-driven clothing lines? Perhaps, as became clear the next day when the DaVinci Collection by Charlie Sheen, a retro-flavored line of casual shirts, rolled out at a Vegas trade show. When the guy who gave us "Hot Shots! Part Deux" and turned up in Heidi Fleiss' little black book has turned garmento, it's probably time to take away the needle and thread and back away from the pattern cutter.
Which makes charting the evolution of the William Rast label all the more enjoy- able. Last season, Timberlake and co-founder Trace Ayala brought designers Johan and Marcella Lindeberg into the fold (the quartet share creative direction), and the denim-based men's and women's line really started to switch things up.
Ironically, the show, dubbed "New America," served up some of the same trends that were evident on the men's runways of Europe last month: the love affair with shades of gray, color-blocked trousers and metal embellishments on leather jackets and denim, including grommets of varying sizes on women's jeans and shirt yokes that looked like cartoon seltzer water bubbles congregating at the shoulder and hip.
Some of the current week's more dominant trends were also part of the mix, with lots of leathers, a multiplicity of zippers (even in this economy, a zipper factory somewhere must have actually added jobs) and double-breasted jackets.
But some of the embellishments were overkill. Black embroidered beading on some women's pieces seemed more Victorian than the "Thelma & Louise"-meets-"Rumble Fish" aesthetic they were shooting for, and by the time the collection hits the street, the appetite for the washed, worn, whiskered, patchworked five-pocket jeans will have faded like the denim itself.
The jury is still out on Charlie Sheen's new line of rockabilly-flavored casual shirts, but Timberlake probably won't have to be watching his sexy back anytime soon.