Hilfiger's cowgirls give fashion pack the blues

TOMMY HILFIGER took over the legendary Madison Square Garden sports arena for his show in New York Fashion Week as the British rock band, Bush, provided the soundtrack.

Giant video screens were erected so that those seated in the "gods" could witness the most glamorous of sports - fashion, that is - going on below.

Even the models, who paraded in a square formation, were reminiscent of the girls who hold up numbered cards between rounds in a boxing match, not least because of their star spangled attire. Cowboy boots, encrusted with Swarovski crystals that spelt out the words "Tommy Rocks" were part cowgirl, part Wonder Woman in flavour. Remember Lynda Carter in her red, white and blue stars and stripes corset, cape and boots?

Well, that just about sums up Hilfiger's latest quest to capture the hearts and hard-earned cash of Main Street America - and the rest of the world for that matter. There were also elements of Elvis, with white extra-wide boot-cut trousers smothered in glittering stars.

Rodeo queens wore Western-style shirts, fringed spray-on trousers, spurs and flashy Cuban-heeled boots. But it was all good clean fun and business as usual for Hilfiger.

The collection was hardly conservative by the standards of the man who built his empire by re-issuing the all-American collegiate look, like Ralph Lauren before him, but hardly trashy glam a la Donatella Versace either.

Despite his high fashion detractors, Hilfiger has consistently created his own vigorous vision. By associating himself with the most popular American images - sport and rock music - he captures his chief market: youth. If that means hauling in a rock group to headline at his show then so be it.

But it will take more than Bush, or the singer Jewel, who features in his advertising campaign, or even the co-sponsorship of The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Rock-Style exhibition, to win credibility with the fashion crowd. Right or wrong, his clothes and image simply don't gel with catwalk glamour.

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