Kors tightens his waistband to outshine the young pretenders

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The Independent US

While the New York fashion establishment has in recent seasons been making concerted efforts to nurture the careers of its youngest designers, there are a handful of names that have the benefit of experience. Michael Kors, a native of Long Island, who showed his spring/summer 2006 collection yesterday at the official marquees in Bryant Park, is celebrating 25 years in business.

And unlike his greener competitors - such as 26-year-old Zac Posen, a favourite of Vogue editor Anna Wintour, who also showed last night - Kors knows that it's easy American sportswear, not watered-down versions of the more outré Paris collections, that ultimately have commercial clout here - and in the conservative Midwest.

So, although his draped jersey dresses more than hinted at the 1980s - what does an off-the-shoulder camel-coloured blouse or black sequinned leggings evoke if not camp classics like Dynasty or Flashdance - this collection didn't take any risks. That's not his style. What Kors does well is flattering, fluid tailoring and draped matte jersey.

The camel and black colour combinations felt dated, but he tweaked just enough of the classics to acknowledge next spring's trends, such as airy volumes, as in a pale mushroom halterneck dress with a fluttering integral cape.

What pulled this collection together was Kors' insistence on a sharply defined waist. He even encircled his swimming costumes with waist-making wide belts. Yves Saint Laurent's Stefano Pilati put that part of the female anatomy back on the agenda last year and for next spring its continued definition - or not - remains a point of contention. You're in or you're out. Earlier in the week, the young design duo PronezaSchouler celebrated the pulled-in, high waist of the 1980s. But Marc Jacobs, by far the most influential designer on this week's schedule, stands in the latter camp. His cropped, baggy, calico-coloured trousers only vaguely marked out a boyish, low-slung waist, while he erased it altogether in short T-shirt dresses.

Also showing yesterday was the denim brand Diesel, which presented a fully-fledged fashion collection at the socialite hangout, Cipriani. What piqued curiosity here was reports that Diesel owner Renzo Rosso may be moving in to purchase the avant-garde Dutch company Viktor & Rolf, adding to his group of designer brands that includes Martin Margiela and Dsquared.

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