As the guests lined up outside the Tent at Bryant Park on Tuesday, February 7, it was quite evident which designer's collection they were there to view. Older society ladies in fur coats, impeccably groomed men, rappers caps askew with diamond watches, young debutantes reluctantly accompanying their mothers all here to see the anticipated collection of Michael Vollbracht for Bill Blass Fall 2006. Vollbracht, the designer who now oversees the great design house, is considered a man of artistic renown in the areas of fashion design, illustration, literature and painting. It is Vollbracht who has re-energized this brand, bringing in younger celebrities such as Sandra Bullock, Paris Hilton, and Janet Jackson; and maintaining relationships with the 'older' set such as First Lady Laura Bush.
The 2000 seat Tent was filled to capacity with well know buyers, editors such as Nina Garcia (Elle and Project Runway), designers such as Patricia Field and actresses such as Cynthia Nixon (Sex and the City). The crowd eagerly anticipated the return to the runway of favorite model, Daria Werbowy, who had taken a two year hiatus.
A red trench coat, cinched at the waist with a wide black belt, began the show as Latin flavored music played loudly in the background. Vollbracht returned the iconic design line to what it has always done best clothing for the urban woman who is moneyed, social and fashion conscious. Neutral colors were accentuated by bold reds and blues as seen in a 'have to have' blue embroidered and beaded coat inspired by Indian tapestries.
Embellished dresses with sequins and shine; black shift dresses paired with long black evening gloves were reminiscent of a scene out of Breakfast with Tiffany's. In honor of the line's younger clients, swinging dresses in plaids of red, green, and gold, large belts at the waist were shown with coverings of bright red cashmere sweaters. A fur bolero jacket over a flouncy knee length dress was beautiful in its simplicity something that any woman could wear and would want to be seen in. A tasteful navy pinstripe wool pantsuit when paired with a bright blue silk charmeuse shirt, tie at neck, becomes a feminine piece that can easily go from office to evening. Unfortunately, black or nude sheer stockings added an element of dowdiness to these wearable outfits.
The use of accessories was important. Wide belts were seen on at least twenty of the fifty-five outfits shown. Envelope bags in crocodile were clutched by the models as they moved down the runway. Fur collars accentuated plain looking suits; ruffles were used as additions to simple jackets; bows became de rigueur on satin shirts.
A lovely white wedding dress was the final piece of the show, a tradition that normally occurred at the end of a designer's collection but is considered a bit old-fashioned. The Bill Blass Fall 2006 collection, while understated and at times simplistic, exhibited Vollbracht's love for, and understanding of, a woman's body. Honoring the original vision of Bill Blass, these were beautiful, crafted clothes that a New York woman would be proud to wear when lunching at 21.
Photos courtesy of Olympus Fashion Week