- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 9, 2008

NEW YORK (AP) - Before you conclude that the easy, loose styles that have dominated New York Fashion Week mean a return to comfort, hold your breath: The corset is back.

The cinched-waist style proved a staple from designers on Tuesday, offsetting the draped, beachy look so popular on the runways this week.

Monique Lhuillier paired the structured corset with sheer tulle overlays, while other designers went for more Pussycat Doll-like black leather or something more sophisticated under a suit jacket.

At Luca Luca, new creative director Raul Melgoza created satin corset shorts that go halfway up the midriff. Corsets were also shown by Peter Som, who combined it with the romper short look also popular here, along with Proenza Schouler, Isaac Mizrahi and the ever-constricting Herve Leger.

New York Fashion Week runs through Friday, with highlights Tuesday including Betsey Johnson, celebrating 30 years in business.

LUCA LUCA

A new creative director for Luca Luca doesn’t necessarily mean a drastic new direction. In his runway debut on Monday, Raul Melgoza presented a spring collection that captured the shapely spirit of Luca Orlandi’s woman, but with even more emphasis on cut, fit and luxe fabrics.

The designer turned to the bustier for a sexy, lean silhouette, and most of clothes were in cool tones of white and gray, including one-shoulder, bias-cut gowns in satin that looked liked liquid silver.

Melgoza said it’s he prefers to focus on long-lasting designs instead of trends, and that’s why he puts so much effort into creating the perfect silhouette instead of adding bells and whistles.

Also, in these tough economic times, it doesn’t hurt to use beads, sequins and other embellishment sparingly, he added. “There’s a fine line of economics. … I’m using luxurious fabrics but a lot less embellishment, which is very expensive to do. I’m not doing it only as a cost-cutting measure, but it doesn’t hurt.”

CYNTHIA STEFFE

“Wearable” isn’t a buzzword you hear after every fashion show, but the models on the Cynthia Steffe catwalk could have just kept going through the Bryant Park tents and onto the street.

“I don’t believe in designing things that aren’t wearable,” designer Shaun Kearney said backstage at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.

The dresses were probably the highlights: A green smocked-waist, boatneck dress would be perfect for cocktails or a daytime wedding, and a khaki “utility” dress with a ruched waist and zip front could go just about anywhere. There also was a group of three tiered white dresses with ruffled necklines _ each a different length _ that looked lovely.

GOTTEX

Gottex’s 69 looks, separated into different sunbathing themes, differed in color, style and material, but all said the same: Broadway at the beach.

The extravagant display of St. Tropez theatrics, already apparent in the opening nautical theme that featured gold anchors, sailor collars or gold ribbon trim, showed women that the beach was a place to be a character _ in particular one who doesn’t get wet, and doesn’t tan either. Many styles were cutouts or incorporated tops made with spiderwebs of ribbon or braiding, all of which are sure to leave behind strange tan lines.

The standouts were the simplest and most modest of suits: a group of black bikinis, one-piece bandeaus, and halter tops trimmed with 18-karat gold ribbon.

___

Associated Press writer Amanda Kwan contributed to this report.

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