New York?s Fashion Week revels in luxury--We review the hot trends on the runway this year

By Degen Pener
February 25, 2000 at 05:00 AM EST

New York?s Fashion Week revels in luxury

Taking in New York City’s Fashion Week, Feb. 3-11, was like sitting through The Talented Mr. Ripley. Don’t you wanna dress like Gwyneth Paltrow’s privileged character in the movie? Or, to update the ref, feel like you’re a member of the exclusive circle of very rich, young ladies — like Estee Lauder exec Aerin Lauder — now dominating Manhattan’s Upper East Side social scene?

Of course, you have as much chance of joining this select club as, say, Pamela Anderson Lee does. But soon you’ll at least be able to feel like you’re in it. Just as Matt Damon literally tried to become Jude Law by stepping into his shoes, you can simply put on next fall’s designer duds. The look is ”rich and sophisticated, but not fuddy-duddy,” says Sex and the City‘s Sarah Jessica Parker, who attended three shows. Adds Glamour exec fashion editor Suze Yalof: ”Women want to aspire all of a sudden. They want head-to-toe outfits.”

And how to get the new ladylike look down just right? On your next trip to New York, suggests designer Michael Kors, go to the Carlyle for cocktails in a ’40s fedora and a skinny jeweled belt over a slim tweed skirt and white silk blouse. Stock up on houndstooth from John Bartlett and Randolph Duke. Splurge, if you can, on a flirty Marc Jacobs organza dress, a Calvin Klein alligator jacket, a Lacroix-goes-minimalist pouf skirt by Helmut Lang, or a black suit with a perfectly cut short jacket by Ralph Lauren. And make a beeline for Donna Karan, who sent out the least retro yet most refined clothes of the week: sexy jazz-age dresses, Audrey Hepburn pencil skirts, and snug turtlenecks. Above all, wear red. The quintessential power color is back in force, from DKNY’s red leather to Tommy Hilfiger’s Ivy League red plaid. Fashion house Tuleh even credited that ’80s lady in red, Nancy Reagan, as an inspiration.

Of course, this shameless embrace of all things luxurious could backfire. In fact, it already strikes a sour note (like the program notes for Matt Nye’s show, which included jaded patter about Rolls-Royces, Gulfstream jets, and black AmEx cards). Fashion Week put into sharp relief a world of haves, have-nots, and wannabes. As Billie Holiday sang in the hot song of the week, French techno wizard Alex Gopher’s remix of ”God Bless the Child”: ”Them that’s got shall win, them that’s not shall lose.”