Showing at her usual venue, the grand New York Public Library, Jill Stuart seemed just a touch breathless. Perhaps it's because chez Stuart there's quite a bit to talk about. Her debut men's collection, named Stuart Curtis, is about to hit stores for spring. She just launched Jill, a lower-priced collection meant to deliver her flirty fare to a younger customer. And she recently signed a licensing deal with Tim Schifter to make handbags, one of which (a luscious, oversize black patent shopper) she modeled for the backstage crowd.
Out on the runway, Fall found Stuart back in a favorite haunt: the vintage store. This time she was working in the reliably fertile Swinging Sixties spirit of Emma Peel, Françoise Hardy, and Twiggy. Somehow, unlike other blasts from the past (the Roaring Twenties, say), the bold colors and clean shapes of that era tend not to feel as bogged down in a mire of nostalgia.
Despite a few overly literal interpretations of Courrèges or Paco Rabanne, Stuart kept her leggy minidresses, skinny pants, and boxy little jackets fresh and relevant to the modern customer. Still, the show soon lapsed into repetitive territory: Stuart could have made her point more strongly with fewer looks.