Suiting Up in One Piece

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The New York Sun

Strange but true: The one clear trend to emerge from the first few days of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week is the presence of jumpsuits and rompers.

These one-piece wonders have popped up in the spring 2009 collections from DKNY, Yigal Azrouël, BCBGMaxAzria, and more. While the proportions and styling differed enormously from runway to runway, the question remained the same: Will women really go for outfits intended for janitors and children?

One has to guess that Donna Karan knows what she’s doing. Her show on Sunday was a celebration of 20 years of DKNY, complete with freshened-up classics from the 1980s. Rather than actual rompers, Ms. Karan showed a number of romper-style shorts: Puffy at the top of the thigh, the shorts were cute, kicky, and unwearable for anyone older than 22. For the grown-ups out there, the DKNY jumpsuits offered more sex appeal. A gray silk number with a low waist was infinitely more attractive than one made in linen denim.

But the real message here was the show’s party atmosphere. The bright ’80s colors, miniskirts, and baggy jackets recalled the days of Brat Pack films and punk rock. The collection is a look back without being a throwback: the Reagan years — by way of “Gossip Girl.”

The collection at BCBGMaxAzria included jumpsuits, too, but these emphasized a more flowing silhouette. One gray sateen jumpsuit — with a wide belt that drew attention to the waist — had a sexy “Dallas” swagger. Overall, the collection suggested an evolving look — more creative, more adventurous — of a popular label. Shirtdresses were relaxed yet tidy with little ties or belts. Evening dresses were sexy with strapless tops and folds or draping that hung without fuss. The open backs of several dresses offered a little surprise flash of skin. Vests were shrunken and added a sporty look to the collection, as did a few jackets made of tough materials such as nylon and polyurethane.

The palette of gray and plum was punctuated by dresses in bright orange, blue, and fuchsia. Color-blocked tops were accented with folds in contrasting colors that peeked out like the hot pink paper lining of a cream envelope.

Yigal Azrouël showed a collection that was eclectic, but consistently cool — and, yes, included a romper that recalled workpants. While long flowing caftans with blue batik print suggested nights by the beach, there was also plenty to wear in the city. Tight, shrunken jeans — that looked vacuum-sealed onto the models’ legs — were paired with slouchy layers on top. Vests were a significant component of those layers. One in a light gray leather was a particular standout; others were layered under oversize cardigans.

Though the tight-jeans-and-vest look shows off the body, several pairs of pants had a more tapered shape, with loose fabric around the hips that came to a tight peg at the ankle. As he often does, Mr. Azrouël incorporated the rough or frayed side of fashion: Several pieces came with raw edges that signaled a casual ease. Though the collection had its contrasts — tight versus loose, pale fabrics versus bold ethnic prints — it had plenty that will appeal to the core customer: chic, artsy, thin, and beautiful.

The New York Sun

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