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  • Sure, fashion seems like an indulgence right now, but it might just kick-start your enthusiasm for living in the city again. Here, a guide to the best of the coming spring 2002 season: all the key looks and how to wear them.
    At the just-finished run of fashion shows in Europe, there was a new name on everyone's lips: Cipro. People who used to swap dates of the latest shipments to the Balenciaga store on the Avenue Georges V were busy trading the numbers of Parisian doctors willing to hand out prescriptions. Welcome to the spring 2002 collections, where X-ray machines, metal detectors, and gun-toting security guards were as prevalent outside the show venues as romantic frills and furbelows were inside. Members of the audience — last seen vigilantly charting the turf wars between LVMH and the Gucci Group — were sharing the latest reports from CNN, and passing around tattered thirdhand copies of the New York Times.

    But if the new world order was difficult for the front-row set to digest, it was even tougher for the designers. In New York after the tragedy, collections were shown, with little fanfare, to scattershot — and shell-shocked — audiences. While many editors and writers made it to Europe, there were only a handful of New York store buyers in attendance. (A big round of applause, then, for Kal Ruttenstein of Bloomingdale's, Julie Gilhart of Barneys, and Anna Garner of Henri Bendel.) Plus, designers had to grapple with a seemingly unanswerable question: Do people even care about fashion these days? The designers conceived and created their collections before September 11, but they can only be seen in a post-tragedy framework. Given the difficulty of predicting the clothes-buying public's mood — or the economy — it's hard to know what will look appealing on store racks a few weeks from now, let alone when spring comes around.

    Nevertheless (and at the risk of sounding superficial), there was a lot of great, easy-to-enjoy fashion out there. The looming recession had already made designers scale back on the theatrics and focus on delivering clothes that women could actually wear. Now that impulse seems all the more appropriate. The collections that were the freshest fused the passions of the season — romantic, ethnic, and pastoral looks — with a slick urban sensibility. Artsy-craftsy details like smocking, patchwork, embroidery, and fringing got an extra jolt when paired with the season's backbone-of-the-closet pieces: masculine blazers, wide-legged pants, classic shirts.

    Over the next few pages is the best of spring: the trends, accessories, and must-have basics that — if the designers, retailers, and Mayor Giuliani get their way — you'll be rushing out to buy in a few months' time. There is, however, at least one purchase that's worth making right now. The CFDA/Vogue Fashion for America T-shirt, which went on sale last week at department stores and designer boutiques citywide, costs a mere $22.50, with the proceeds going to the Twin Towers Fund. It may not be the most expensive sartorial splurge you'll make in the coming months, but it will undoubtedly be the most meaningful.

    See the looks of spring!
    From the November 12, 2001 issue of New York Magazine.





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