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- A Special Report -

The Ten Best Looks of the New York Spring 2007 Season

- by Bernadine Morris, senior editor Bernadine was for thirty years the senior fashion writer of The New York Times. Photos by Randy Brooke and Carlos Buscemi.

Jade green jacket suit is cheerful daytime style..

The Chado Ralph Rucci collection was by far the highlight of the New York spring 2007 collections. Mr. Rucci, who was born in Philadelphia, has been practicing his craft for 25 years and he has learned all the elegance of construction of the best French couture houses. It is a marvel to see his clothes on a New York runway where they tend to make some other clothes look as if they were made by loving hands at home.

Feathers along with furs and sequins provide a luxury look.

He has a predilection for simple black shift dresses, gloriously embellished with inserts and embroideries that give the surface visual excitement. He even does practical styles like rainsuits that are a far cry from the ubiquitous tan trench coat. For evening his clothes are awash in lame and other glitter. Luxury furs like sable also turned up.

Not everyone was enamoured by his style. So much luxury was hard to assimilate in a much simpler time. But it was wonderful to see dressmaking at its finest. The Chado in his title refers to the Japanese tea ceremony. Mr. Rucci is also an artist.

1920's chemise dress still works today.

The well-established American houses also did a saisfactory job. Ralph Lauren turned to black and white stripes for his popular casual look He added shorts and an occasional frilly blouse to increase the dimension. He does some black and white print dresses for day and turnsto gold and beads, embellishing simple shapes for evening. A 1920's chemise occsionally appears in contemporay collections and looks as good today as it did 80 years ago. Lauren show a couple of them over a white T shirt. It works just fine.

Everything is draped at Dona Karan.

Donna Karan began her business with five easy pieces that could be worn interchangeably. No such thing today, With few exceptions her clothes are intricately draped and gathered and certainly look different from eveything else around. It's proof of the designer's versatility and ability to explore new territory in fashion. Many preferred her simpler look, but she is to be commended for moving on.

Michael Volbracht tailors Bill Blass suit with a new twist, harem shorts.

Bill Blass was one of the established fashion names who developed a strong following among women who cared about clothes. Michael Vollbracht, who has been designing the clothes for a few seasons seems to have captured the Blass style. He does expertly tailored suits and varied evening dresses, including slinky ones, short harem skirts and styles with full skirts. He may carry the Blass name into the future.

Thin daytime dress is typical of summer.

Francisco Costa may do the same thing for Calvin Klein. Thin dresses in sheer fabrics are his specialty. He also likes myriad tucks, draped effects and occasional full skirts. Yellow, pale blue and peach are among his colors. His clothes are not Calvin Klein's, but they have their own charm.

Use of Lots of decorative fabrics at Tam.

With close to 100 shows scheduled for Seventh on Sixth, there are many noteworthy styles among the shows that do not create stampedes among the audiences. Vivienne Tam is one of these, whose styles are eminently wearable and do not require a perfect figure. She offers all the contemporary looks including pale shades in brocade and linen dresses and lots of unusual decoration, like the calligraphy print at the midriff of an ivory silk dress. She also uses paillettes, crochet effects and lots of cutouts. Lime is one of her favorite off-beat colors.

Today her prints are big and the fit is loose.

Diane von Furstenberg's wrap dresses were a standby of the 1970's and 1980's. They haved been replaced by loose dresses in big prints, pleated styles and lace ones. There's a tremendous variety and some may achieve the widespread acceptance of those early wrap-and-tie dresses.

Typical evening dress in pleasant summer print.

Oscar de la Renta is one of the marvels of Seventh Avenue. Having trained briefly at Balenciaga in Spain,and then at Lanvin in Paris. he opened his own collection in New York at Elisabeth Arden. The rest is pretty much history. Oscar has been a success almost from the beginning. This time he has a feeling for puffy skirts, sweaters and crocheted boleros,spaced flower prints and taffeta dresses with low-placed ruffles. You name it and Oscar's got it, beautifully done.

Any elegant evening dress that is proper anywhere.

Carolina Herrera is another of the old pros on Seventh Avenue. There is a graceful ladylike look to her clothes even when she touches on the main details of the season. So there are plenty of lace inserts, ribbon trimmings and flower prints. Her collection is always a class act.


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