February 22, 2004 Milan
Contriving to infuse a sense of chic into his collection, Steele also managed to sidestep the inherent pitfalls of both ladylike frumpery and saccharine girlishness that beset many designers who set off down the well-trodden retro road. Some of that came through his subtle way of mixing soft sorbet shades of the same color in the same outfit (a bois de rose angora cardigan with a flesh-pink skirt, say, or two mismatching tints of green), and resisting the temptations of over decoration. He also leavened the frilly fragility of the dressy look with a few cool yoke-backed coats and dresses taken from the book of Balenciaga. Simply styled with bead-encrusted satin pumps, the look had a certain abbreviated modernity that set it refreshingly apart from standard vintage rehash.