What price fashion? In the past year, the topic has gone from occasional buzz to positive din as designers and retailers attempt to adapt to the new financial order. For this reason, Richard Chai
's timing for the launch of his secondary collection was rather spot-on. Chai chose to show his new lower-priced line, named Richard Chai Love, on the runway today in lieu of his high-end wares. Though his reasons for doing so were put down to Love's debutante status and the fact that it's the "girlfriend" to his contemporary menswear, shown right afterward, it's surely a sign of our times. The designer range will be shown only in appointments, and may or may not be back on the runway. But the look of Love, in fact, hews closely to the main line, drawing from the sportier end of its spectrum for a streamlined version of Chai's coolly modern and polished downtown girl. "It's about pieces," said the designer. "The perfect anorak, the perfect blazer." And there they were, layered into a breezy masculine-feminine mix of slightly rumpled tailoring and pretty-but-not-sweet silk dresses and tops, touting their perfection in subtle tweaks of proportion and cut. But these weren't basics. It's a look that's uniquely Chai's, with a point of view that's not well represented in that market. That's likely the reason that the front-row retail sector headed backstage armed with big smiles and hugs.