On the Offensive

The Fall 2001 Fashion Shows

There were, of course, lots of collections where less potent fantasies held sway. In the case of Cynthia Rowley and Betsey Johnson, soldiers and street fighters gave way to the more benign if durable daydream of running away with the circus. Rowley rented the New Victory Theater, hired professional jugglers and an accordion player in a derby hat to warm up the crowd, and sent out harlequin dresses, scalloped dance skirts, and a number of garments decorated with sequined elephants. It was hard not to like the Pierrot hats and the wide white satin pants trimmed with pom-poms so silly they seemed intended for entertaining the troops. Entertainment of another sort came to mind at Betsey Johnson, where the models were dressed like sexy acrobats, decked out in tiny teddies, tutus, corsets, knickers, striped bloomers, crinolines, slip dresses, bias-cut gowns, and other lingerie-informed garments that fell somewhere between a Latin Quarter bordello and prom night in Piscataway, New Jersey. Chinese deco rugs carpeted the catwalk and a single chandelier hung high above the old-fashioned doorway from which the models emerged. If only poison gas hadn't felled those doughboys at John Bartlett, they could have spent one last evening with Betsey's girls before returning to the front.

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