Douglas Hannant titled his Fall collection Gentry and took as his muse Wallis Simpson, the couture-loving divorcée who married way, way up. Was Hannant having a Madonna moment, then? No, the designer said backstage before his show. He only learned about the film W.E. after he had started designing his collection, though he was pleased to find his girl was in the zeitgeist.
A leaf-strewn runway filled in for the grounds of an English manor. For a well-appointed weekend in the country there was plenty of plaid, tweed, and houndstooth; and, for horse lovers, a pair of saucy black leather jodhpurs. Sherlock Holmes had been invited, too, and his influence could be seen in a fitted, salt-and-pepper jacket that fluttered into a cape.
A model in one of Eric Javits' darling hats and a matching black-and-white-check bias-cut sheath could have been his chic sidekick (sorry, Watson). Hannant skipped the volume for evening, opting instead for a languid silhouette. A black, panne velvet mermaid gown with a beaded décolleté fit the bill, but the best dress was much less glamorous: A clingy jersey sheath color-blocked in purple, emerald, and tan, which felt unexpected and new. It may not have been in Wallis' repertoire, but it evoked the here and now.