Cool and the Gang

The Fall '99 Collections

Fur certainly didn't bother Michael Kors, either. Kors, the heir apparent, now that Todd and Isaac are out of the way, to the crown long shared by Donna, Calvin, and Ralph, called his collection Sundance Chic and favored such novelties as a rubberized riding cape lined with sable and a sheared mink serape, though there were also plain wool blankets— beige with stripes— for those who don't like animal hair.

If there was any sense to be made from the melange of ideas on the runways, it was perhaps unwittingly articulated by Susan Cianciolo, the undisputed princess of Downtown demimondaine fashion even as Kors is Uptown's Prince Valiant. This season, she showed in a Gramercy Park tearoom, with dying roses and crumpets on the tables, a switch from her previous venues, which have included abandoned storefronts and park bandshells.

Before the show even started, the audience was a feast for the eyes: men with heads full of braids and necks hung with strands of dime-store pearls; tiny women in leg warmers layered over pants topped by skirts, miniature leather jackets, and raggedy fur scarfs. The models, when they finally emerged, were dressed in Cianciolo's tucked and tied, patched and pulled, coltishly charming outfits, which had been cleverly reconstituted from older garments picked up in thrift shops or trash bins. Her mannequins seemed like the prettiest girls at RISD, of which Cianciolo is an alumna, and they joked easily with the audience, who were clearly friends and fellow artists. None of them looked like they ever went above 23rd Street, so in all likelihood they will never see the little group of Cianciolo dresses presently hanging limply on a rack on the fifth floor of Barneys, sporting four-figure price tags.

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