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Fashion’s funny bone (sarah michelle gellar mention)

Vivian Mc Inerny

Friday 10 February 2006, by Webmaster

NEW YORK — Necessity may be the mother of invention. But in the fashion world, it’s often frivolity that gives birth to brilliance.

Many of the designers showing during Olympus Fashion Week revealed the inspiration behind their fall 2006 collections in the official program. Some offered their ideas in a color report produced by Pantone, an organization that tracks color trends. Others showing in off-tent venues sent out press releases. The muse isn’t always obvious, but it can be amusing.

Kenneth Cole kicked off fashion week with a mockumentary about the importance of supporting victims of certain afflictions. One poor girl couldn’t air-kiss without smashing someone’s nose, so she was forced to wear one of those plastic cones that dogs don after a visit to the vet. Others, addicted to catwalking, were prone to vogueing in grocery stores — so embarrassing! Still others suffered a type of fashion Tourette’s and couldn’t stop blurting out the f-word — "Fabulous!" — at the most inoportune moments.

Oh yes, the clothes. Cole showed a sophisticated collection of tasteful separates. No real surprises but beautifully wearable. The most daring for Cole? Draped velvet dresses with wide, cinched waists in contrasting velvet were more formal than usual. And gorgeous!

Wolfgang Joop for Wunderkind referred to a rather specific inspiration: a painting of a young boy by Georg Schrimpf (1889-1938). The kid’s odd proportions caused Joop to question, "What is real today?" Apparently, clothes with girly shapes and boyish practicality.

Brian Reyes is a quick study. Only 24, he’s already worked with Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors and Oscar de la Renta. His own collection will be shown later this week at the Sony Music Studio — a harmonious setting, considering he credits early American jazz and blues, and the clothing of that era, as inspiration.

BCBG stands for "bon chic bon genre," which translates (according to our failing French skills and a cheat sheet from designer Max Azria) as "good style, good attitude." His roots are Old World, but Azria is now full-fledged SoCal. He’s found gold in them thar Beverly Hills. It’s no surprise, then, that Hollywood glam is his muse.

His BCBG line, which sells in stores by the same name, is priced at $150-$600. His Max Azria Atelier is custom-made for stars such as Sharon Stone, Halle Berry and Sarah Michelle Gellar for $10,000 to $20,000 (although we’d bet almost that much that they don’t actually pay). This week, he introduced Max Azria Collection, priced $300-$2,000. The colors were so subdued they were almost dreary, with a disjointed mix of fabrics. Very un-Hollywood.

Menswear designer John Bartlett was "mining the territory of iconic American male figures" for his collection. He found them in "an untamed stretch of coastline and wilderness" in Maine whose denizens "ramble through pine forests, splash about naked in freshwater ponds and read Thoreau." Scared yet? This translated into loden green peacoats, vintage plaid shirts and long johns. The big, bearded models looked especially rugged walking on a wood chip-strewn "runway" while carrying a stack of wood as accessories. The footwear by L.L. Bean and Redwing was so big, some models looked as if they were wearing the shoeboxes.

Lastly — and in a completely different gear — Badgley Mischka was "about intensity; intense colors, intense silhouettes and intense opulence." The clothes were red-carpet-worthy, as always. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, sitting front row, deserve a discount: They are so tiny they need only a yard of fabric between them.