If there were any doubts about whom the Hervé Léger collection is for, they were laid to rest this morning in Bryant Park. At 11 a.m., the front row of the Léger show was lined with celebrities of the WB variety (who is Sophia Bush, anyway? That's Fug Girl territory) in full-out hair (updos! hot-roller curls!), makeup, bare legs, and four-inch heels. Each of them — from Mandy Moore to Ginnifer Goodwin — was wrapped, strapped, and stuffed into a classic Léger dress, which is to say a skintight series of wide elastic straps that hug the body and prop up the chest so that it might resemble ripe fruit on a shelf. Léger dresses are not unlike ACE bandages, but in colors a bit nicer than flesh, and they have, in recent seasons, begun to capture the fashion imagination. Proenza Schouler paid tribute two seasons back, as have the Olsen twins with their high-end collection, the Row. But it's been on the tabloid-ready red carpet (and, one can only presume, in the non-famous world's corresponding trifecta of weddings, proms, and bar mitzvahs) that Léger has known its greatest success: They are mindless, easy, uncomplicated, sexy dresses.
Mr. Léger himself no longer owns his name (he's had to change it to Hervé Leroux). The name and the collection are now owned and designed by Max Azria, of BCBG fame, and this was its debut with the New York collections.
The collection was at its best when it stuck to simple iterations on that bandage/bondage idea, in colors like blush, plum, and teal. Tricksy versions were too complicated, with appliqués, corsages, feathers, and more bandages clustered haphazardly down the chest. But it all worked best in that traditional elastic — when Azria extended the idea to wools and knits, the effect was unnecessarily bulky. Mr. Azria seems well aware of the gold mine he's got in Léger's name: There will always be girls in need of a tight, sexy dress, and the variations on that basic felt a bit forced for the runway. One can only imagine that, when all is said and done, what will make its way to the rack will be simple, tight, and in ample supply wherever a flashbulb pops. —Amy Larocca
Browse a slideshow of the Hervé Léger collection.