Then there's Benhaz Serapfour who gently tweaked her vision of neat, tailored dresses with sparkly gold sequins and a few puff ball skirts. The strongest show came from out-of-towners Kate and Laura Mulleavy who brought their chiffon mille-feuille frocks to New York from Pasadena. These two sisters, who have no formal fashion training but a healthy dose of imagination, presented their first runway show, and their vision, although a bit quirky, was strangely captivating. What all these designers have in common is an airy, romantic notion of what women should wear.
None of this fluffy stuff will pass muster with the guy I consider one of New York's great design talents: Narciso Rodriguez. He has a razor-sharp eye for tailoring and an ability to reinvent so much in terms of how clothes are cut. With innovative fabrics Rodriguez can take something so obvious like a flowing chiffon goddess gown and make it look totally new. For spring he added color blocking in tomato red or teal and sent out some beautiful breezy coats in cool lacquered fabrics. Derek Lam is also experimenting with the American sportswear vocabulary, drawing inspiration from such sources as Claire McCardell's popover dress or patchwork quilting.