Things are looking up at Bill Blass. Angelina Jolie wore clingy, spicy-red Blass on the cover of the January Vogue, and the company celebrated the launch of the new Blass fragrance during fashion week.
Did the Fall collection live up to the moment? For the most part, yes. Michael Vollbracht didn't reinvent the wheel, but he was in good form and the energy was up, up, up, with Johnny Dynell's remix of Benny Goodman's "Sing, Sing, Sing" bounding from the loudspeakers.
Having struck gold with Jolie's red jersey, it isn't surprising Vollbracht put out more knit dresses for autumn; one, a burgundy-and-camel color-block worn by Freja Beja Erichsen, had a timely eighties vibe. (A quick gripe here, however: Some of these knits would have worked better if they had hit someplace other than over the knee; and all of them would have worked better worn with something other than matronly flesh-colored tights. Odd legwear has been a problem at too many shows this week.) Still, there was plenty for the retailer and the customer to crave: a forest-green corduroyed-mink coat, a sable-lined silk anorak, and a pinstriped suit with just the right insouciance. A strapless black satin evening gown would be perfect for opening night at the American Ballet Theater.
Vollbracht's best effort, though, was a series of slithery mermaid dresses, done according to a technique borrowed from the great American master Norman Norell, who made a hit with his liquid sequined mermaids in the fifties (worn to memorable effect by Marilyn Monroe). Literally, thousands of sequins were sewn into place, by hand, à la Norell. The sterling level of craftsmanship really showed.