Claude Morais and Brian Wolk
with model.

Lulu and Betsey Johnson

Next Wave Rules Runway As
Young Designers Take Spotlight

Story by Edward T. Callaghan
Photos by Rob Rich

HILE the great American classics Oscar de la Renta, Bill Blass, Ralph Lauren, Carolina Herrera and Donna Karan played to packed houses with the boldfaced society set – and rightly so – it was clear that it was youth’s turn to shine this year and, oh boy, did they!

At the top of the catwalking was the brilliant Ruffian show by design team Brian Wolk and Claude Morais. In just three years, the quirky collaborators have moved from designing accessories for major fashion houses (including Wolk’s former employer Chanel) to complete collections using the most opulent embroideries and luxurious fabrics.

Showing at Gramercy Park’s National Arts Club (not the tents at Bryant Park), the Ruffianshow, themed American Novel, drew the press corps elite, anxious to see what this year’s Fashion Group International Rising Star Winners had up their tailored sleeves.

They were not disappointed with the collection, a paean to the ‘30s and a little nod to Chanel with luxe fabrics, fine detailing, exceptional tailoring and a touch of whimsy.

Standouts included an Elizabethan ruffled collared satin blouse with bishop sleeves; oversized plaid tweed used in coats and skirts; sexy slinky gowns that brought back images of Carole Lombard and Jean Harlow; and very sporty but elegant mink parkas.

Little wonder that Saks signed an exclusive deal with the tiny luxury house of Ruffian.

Heatherette, the downtown design duo of Traver Raines and Richie Rich, showed once again that they are not just a couple of club kids with a collection that was a glittering mélange of fabrics and contrasting patterns.

Dubbed The Galaxy of Fun and Fashion, Heatherette has a diverse following and their front now proved it – Naomi Campbell, Deborah Harry, Samantha Cole, Jesse Della Femina and mom Judy Licht.

Uptown Zac Posen, fashion’s new golden boy, put out a sophisticated collection in black and silver, with at least a dozen red carpet gowns with voluminous shirts to skirts certain to be seen Oscar night and the Metropolitan Museum’s gala. Loyal fans Nicky Hilton and Uma Thurman applauded wildly.

Another bright star, Jason Wu, won praise for his tailored suits, ballerina cocktail dresses and va-va voom body hugging gowns with enormous flounces all done in black, taupe and off-white.

Marc Jacobs, who juggles design responsibility for three labels, proved that if you want something done right ask a busy person. His shows were winners.

Perennial teenager Betsey Johnson cartwheeled through Fashion Week with another sensational fun collection of girly-girl fantasies. Sweet Betsey came on stage, post show, under a banner stating "Grandma to be" with daughter Lulu bearing flowers for her.

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