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New York Fashion Week: Vera Wang, Badgley Mischka, Barbara Tfank design for grown-ups

September 16, 2009 | 11:39 am
Badgley-mischkaAfter so many thigh-high hems (Herve Leger) and peekaboo skin-baring cutouts (Max Azria), it was refreshing to see a trio of grown-up spring collections in the middle of New York Fashion Week, from designers who had real women, not just 100-pound, 22-year-old starlets, in mind.

Statement jewelry isn't going away anytime soon judging from the Vera Wang and Badgley Mischka collections. At Badgley Mischka, necklaces and bracelets with chunky starfish, shells and pearls were the counterpoint to timeless summer wear.

The designers covered all the bases, from daytime to evening, with a coral colored cotton tweed kimono jacket, worn over cuffed white shorts; the perfect pair of black Shantung, wide-leg, paperbag waist trousers with a crisp white shirt tucked in; a white matte jersey short-sleeve dress with coral beaded keyhole cutouts; and a white silk Shantung ball skirt fluttering with all-over clover-shaped cutouts, topped with an elegant black silk Shantung blazer.

Vera-wang Partying with Poiret was the theme of Vera Wang's terrific collection of darkly romantic layers, paired with candied jeweled bibs and spidery chain necklaces. It was her finest collection in years--free of tricky volumes, calm but with a bit of rock 'n' roll.

A black gazar tuxedo vest was an ingenious piece, worn with a charcoal T-shirt and a sheer black organza skirt. Underneath it all was a pair of charcoal athletic shorts, similar to Spanx. (With all the sheer fabrics this season, we've seen Spanx-like foundations in several collections, including DKNY. Spanx as outerwear, I love it.)

Skinny rocker pants have been turning up a lot, too, and they were here in washed crepe de chine, topped with a loose black silk jersey tunic with a scoop neck. A Mongolian lamb fur hippie vest gave a washed crepe de chine dress with elastic bands artfully folded at the neckline, an edge. Even a smoky gray and lavender poppy print gauze coat, with smocking at the center of each bloom, had attitude.

Barbara-tfankL.A.-based Barbara Tfank also had the real woman in mind with her charmingly retro collection, inspired by the "come and play" attitude of photographer Richard Avedon. There is an Avedon retrospective at the International Center of Photography here, and his photos truly are inspiring. Famed fashion editor Carmel Snow sent Avedon to Paris after World War II to capture the city's prewar spirit, and the role he played in re-establishing France as the capital of high fashion must have been significant.

Early in her career Tfank worked with Avedon, and she translated the charm of his work into her own, with a tangerine dahlia jacquard, full-skirted dress; another full-skirted dress in black Swiss dot with a grosgrain ribbon waistband; a coral, lime and turquoise poppy print coat with full sleeves, worn over a pair of cotton capri pants, and a slim shift in a silver and peacock blue-colored tromp l'oeil lace print.

It's no wonder that the chanteuse Adele has become such a devotee, she stopped by the show. "Mad Men" costume designer Janie Bryant is a fan, too.

-- Booth Moore

Photos: Badgley Mischka spring / summer 2010 collection

Photos: Barbara Tfank spring / summer 2010 collection

Photos: Vera Wang spring / summer 2010 collection

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Top photo: Badgley Mischka.  Middle: Vera Wang. Credits: Peter Stigter and Jonas Gustavsson / For The Times Bottom: Barbara Tfank. Credit: Astrid Stawiarz / Getty Images