When Diane von Furstenberg came out for her bow, she handed out small American flags to people here and there in the crowd as a way of marking September 11. Optimism was the message of her Spring show. There were clues aplenty in addition to the stars and stripes: Nina Simone on the soundtrack crooning "Feeling Good," with its chorus of "It's a new dawn"; the collection's title, Beginnings; and, naturally, the clothes themselves. DVF opened with a series of all-white looks: a gauzy pantsuit, a lace frock, a drapey kimono dress cinched with a utility belt. Her prints, which were legion, were positively exuberant. She focused mainly on florals: green and royal oversize Marimekko-style bursts on a sleeveless white dress, smaller white buds on a blood orange jumpsuit, Wedgwood patterns on a sweatshirt and knee-length skirt. The variety of pattern was remarkable, if not a bit overwhelming.
Still, there were things other than those prints to grab your attention, and we aren't talking about the designer's usual starry front row, which included the éminences grises Oscar de la Renta and Valentino. Von Furstenberg gave no short shrift to menswear-inspired looks. For the girl who prefers not to say it with flowers, she showed crisp, tailored jackets with button-downs and Bermuda shorts. Walking down 14th Street yesterday, one heard a tour guide stop, point to the Diane von Furstenberg headquarters there, and call it "the DVF empire." The point is, something-for-everyone diversity is this designer's strength.