Jeffrey Monteiro must have felt daunted, as the fifth design director to take the reins at Bill Blass
since its namesake designer retired in 1999. You wouldn't know it by his assured first collection for the brand. "I wanted to take his signatures and develop them for the modern woman," said Monteiro, who previously spent time at Derek Lam. To that end, he incorporated classic Blass touches like rounded collars (seen here on everything from a slim gray shift to a sheer sequined tee) and double-faced fabrics (namely a cotton that resembled neoprene on a tailored coat-dress). While a wool pencil skirt that had been slashed at the knees felt like an experiment gone awry, Monteiro caught something of Blass' knack for versatile, unfussy chic with a draped gold lamé mid-calf evening gown that could easily transition from a holiday fête in the city to a beachfront affair. With a Lincoln Center presentation planned for September, the young designer will need to keep his nerve as his foray into modernizing the storied brand moves to a bigger stage.