Ghost beats hurricane to take New York by storm

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THE BRITISH designer Tanya Sarne of Ghost finally unveiled her Spring/Summer 2000 collection in New York yesterday.

Her show, originally scheduled for last Thursday, was cancelled at the last minute by Seventh on Sixth, the organisation responsible for staging New York Fashion Week, because of fears that Hurricane Floyd might flatten Sarne's show venue - one of several Fashion Week tents erected in the heart of the city.

"I am devastatingly disappointed," said Sarne on Thursday. "We did everything to persuade them to let us go ahead, but they said it's too dangerous."

Sarne, who last year opened a megastore in Los Angeles, now has her eye on the Big Apple. Her clothes, favoured by models such as Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell, are one of the most bankable British labels selling in the glossier American department stores.

Yesterday's show, described by Sarne as "a 20th-century collage ... a 21st century carnival", was a continuation of the designer's creative ethos: a clever mix of wearable and directional pieces, from slinky jersey peasant blouses (a nod to the Hungarian vogue for next summer) to chiffon dresses sprinkled with multi-coloured velvet polka dots.

Calvin Klein's show was rather more restrained. But if he sees the future in shades of white and off-white, who are we to argue? The collection he showed Friday night in New York was all about texture and shape. Klein is fanatical in his pursuit of pared-down flawlessness. Hence his long, lean shirt-dress - the best so far at the New York shows, which have been flagging the style as the dress of the season - is devoid of detail apart from tiny buttons at the neck.

The same principle applies to his spring/summer trousers - wide and straight with flat envelope pockets - and his jackets - slim-fitting and soft- shouldered.

The most frivolous design Klein is offering for spring/summer 2000 is a cluster of semi-transparent dresses, beaded with a grid pattern, that come with their own modesty-preserving silk-georgette slips.

This just goes to show that Klein remains a devout realist. Since 1968, in more than 60 runway presentations, unwearable outfits have been scarcer than a wonky hemline.

Just as few gimmicks were on display when Donna Karan showed her collection in New York the same day. The 51-year-old designer who has said that "you've gotta accent your positive, delete your negative", still bases her designs on this theory. That, along with a knack for knowing what women want, has made her a favourite with working women the world over.

For all the American designers, not least Karan, modern clothes are soft, light and structureless. This was underlined as Karan's first batch of dresses in fine navy jersey wafted down the runway. And if that doesn't sound like an exciting opener, it wasn't meant to be. These were simple, chic and quietly sexy dresses, but above all seriously flattering, skimming the hips, drawing in at the waist and flaring gently to just below the knee.

The final line-up of long, fluttering chiffon dresses in pale fruity colours, some with halter-necks and trains, others with asymmetric necklines or plunging front and back scoops, were glamorous enough, although only the very brave, very young, tall, and thin could carry off these gauzy veils.

Encouragingly, the hit of Karan's collection was a black organza kimono- inspired top, worn with narrow trousers and steep heels - a piece that any shape or age could wear.