Osman Yousefzada has always wanted to do an all-white collection, but it wasn't until his recent signing with an Italian licensee that he felt he could truly do the idea justice. As he pointed out, "White leaves you nothing to hide behind." Which makes it a perfectly pure canvas on which a designer can bare his essence, as Valentino and Rifat Ozbek's all-white collections did to spectacular reputation-making effect. So what is the essence of Osman
? After the show, he called himself "an ethno-architect." His somewhat obtuse rationale was "Mrs. Simpson" (did he mean Marge—or the sexual adventuress Wallis before
she married the Prince of Wales?) paying a visit to President Nixon. Osman took this figment of his imagination on a trip round the world, creating for her a wardrobe that referenced the North African djellaba; the Japanese kimono; the sack shape that always suggests French couture; and the trapeze, the T-shirt, and the polo that say "American sportswear." All of it was as pure as the driven snow, except when Osman dip-dyed a smock top in gold, or layered panels of gold down the front of an A-line coat-dress, or down the back of a textured jacquard tunic. When he threaded sashes through big gold eyelets running along shoulder seams or down the side of a dress, the nautical effect evoked a hostess on a giant yacht moored off Capri. In fact, it was easy to see how Osman, as a native of landlocked Afghanistan, might have nursed just such a fantasy in his younger days. But if white gave him nothing to hide behind, it eventually gave us little to look at. The showroom promised a wider palette of fire red, midnight blue, black, and taupe. Most of what we saw would have benefited from the added oomph.