September 13, 2005 New York
The chandeliers dripping with ferns and orchids, and the perfectly coiffed socialites dotting the front row, made the atmosphere feel like a society wedding reception, which suits the designers' aesthetic just fine. There were plenty of mother-of-the-bride dresses to choose from, and, thankfully, the mounds of beading from prior collections gave way to refreshing tiers of lace and tulle, lush satin and chiffon. A real effort was directed at daywear, and the result was conservatively chic tweed dresses and jackets, sweater sets, and beaded tanks. A black jacket layered over a long tank worn with shorts was surprisingly trendy. The unexpected combination of crystal beading on sandy linen hopsack, which was also combined with tulle, produced several lovely cocktail dresses.
But Mark Badgley and James Mischka (who dressed Kate Winslet for this year's Oscars) are known for gowns, and these were still the focus of the show. An embellished bouquet-print satin-and-chiffon gown was a signature, but it was the dress on Caroline Trentini near the end that stood out for its utter simplicity. Made of black cotton and featuring a large rose corsage at the hip, its only drama came from a trapeze hem. Nothing shown here would shock loyalists. Theirs is a world that hovers at the edge of the fashion universe, where trends take a backseat to heavy-handed glamour.