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Ten Best Looks From the Fall 2003
New York RTW Shows
selected by Bernadine Morris

1. Satin blouse and narrow skirt by Carolina Herrera for day into evening.
(Click on images to see full size pictures. All photos by Randy Brooke.)

2. Bouffant evening dress from Carolina Herrera.

3. Slinky jersey dress with cutout rimmed in silver by Donna Karan.


4. Calvin Klein designs full skirt with tucks and pleats for new take on cocktail dressing.

5.Painted leather dress by Atil Katoglu.

6.Casual, short ruffled miniskirt worn with knee socks from DKNY.

7.Tailored jacket and narrow pants by Ralph Lauren.

8. Leather jacket over slinky evening dress by Ralph Lauren.

9.Anne Klein"s mini with gentle fullness.

10. Feather-lined satin shawl for evening by Oscar de la Renta.


The reality factor seems to have nudged its way into many of the fashion shows presented during the New York fall fashion openings. It took may forms. Shows were often staged in bare lofts and photographers' studios, minus glamorous backdrops. Most were confined to 40 or 50 numbers (what designer has original ideas for 100 or more designs?)
Not everything was sober of course. This is, after all, the fashion business. But with retailers worried about the luxury trade, with stores consolidating or closing some locations and the possibility of war on everybody's mind, this is a good time for restraint.. But a good number of styles could actually be worn by a great number of women with actual jobs and families. It is not the time for wild forays into fantasy worlds, mean to attract fashion magazines and startling advertisements.
Still there were enough fresh ideas to encourage women to bypass their closets and think about something new to boost their spirits. Here is a checklist of some of those ideas, which tended to show up repeatedly in many collections:
The miniskirt, Everybody showed it, from the big name designers to the would-be ones. They were not necessarily tight and skimpy. The best had little pleats, godets and flares at the hem to give them movement and grace.
Floaty short dresses (above the knee) in thin fabrics. Calvin Klein had some of the best. Yesterday's tired cocktail dress has achieved a new look.
Good looking tailored clothes, including short fitted jackets, longer jackets with tight pants, lots of fur trimmings and zippers. They all gave a fresh way of approaching daytime dressing. Couture. This is not a word that turns up often at ready t0 wear shows, but an exception must be made for Geoffrey Beene who gives quality its greatest push. His small collection, presented on mannequins in his showroom, includes jackets in various prints (animals, palm trees, stripes) as well as dresses with cutouts and bare back and flaring short coats with irregular edges. Not for women who worry about price tags, but dressmaking at its finest.
Boosting New York's prestige as a fashion center is the arrival of designers from Europe to introduce their collections here, Atil Kutoglu, a Turkish born designer who worked in Vienna decided to show his collection in New York rather than Europe a few seasons ago. His instinct is beginning to pay off. His show was crowded, he was interviewed by television and newspapers and his clothes echoed trends that are appearing here. Hand painted silk and leather, shorts gleaming with paillettes and short harem pants were among his offerings.

Carolina Herrera, who made the transition from a wearer of couture clothes to a maker of quality ready to wear, made an impression with her trench coat styling, sophisticated yet simple, full skirts with short jackets and dresses with cutaway backs.
DKNY which is Donna Karan's collection for younger women, made much of furry leather short jackets paired with lacy, ruched or ruffled skirts and paired then with black knee socks.
The Donna Karan main collection focused in part on neat black pants and dresses white coats and sequined tops with tweed skirts. Long skinny dresses took care of dressed up needs.
The Anne Klein collection included striped minis with short leather jackets, sparkling tops with plain skirts and strapless short dresses, all touchstones of the season. Vivian Tam, one of the smaller houses, opted for black and red print jackets, very tight skirts and embroidered fur jacket.
Scattered through the collections were bomber jackets, furs that could have been real or fake. When not overdone, these looked lively and amusing.
- Bernadine Morris
DFR: Daily Fashion Report