Along with Balenciaga, Versace and Hussein Chalayan, Stella McCartney led fashion’s sci-fi trend this spring. At the meatpacking-district store, I found this short silver dress. The silk-polyester material felt so light, I wondered for a moment if it was a high-tech fabric, and the straight fit was flattering. But the gigantic, elastic-cuffed sleeves looked like metallic trash bags. My childhood heroine, Anne of Green Gables, may have loved puffed sleeves, but I don’t want to go back to the future. 429 14th St., nr. Ninth Ave.; 212-255-1556.
Meandering down Balenciaga’s sci-fi ramp, I braced myself for racks of cyber-goddess gear. But Nicolas Ghesquière’s Terminator-inspired spring 2007 collection had been so diluted for retail that this black acetate-silk dress was the only futuristic attire around. I appreciated the roomy front pockets with darting seams, and the mesh layer beneath the thin straps was a cute, sporty addition. Those details couldn’t make up for poor fit and the rear bustle, which made my backside look two sizes larger. 542 22nd St., nr. Eleventh Ave.; 212-206-0872.
At Macy’s, I found a French Connection gold tank dress with rows of metallic sequins that hung like chain mail in my arms. I liked the way it sparkled, and the scooping neckline was sexy without baring too much cleavage. The problem was the unbearably itchy viscose-rayon fabric. 151 W. 34th St., at Broadway; 212-695-4400.
Initially, I had doubts about Narciso Rodriguez’s pearlescent silk frock at Bergdorf Goodman: It looked plastic and stiff. But the innovative, asymmetrical tucks in the front were implausibly slimming! The V-neckline felt very classic, offset by the edgier exposed silver zipper in the back. I could wear this to dinner at Barbetta with my parents and still feel fashionable. 754 Fifth Ave., at 57th St.; 212-753-7300.
After hours of browsing the endless vintage racks at Cheap Jack’s, I decided this gleaming halter dress by Roberta was worth a shot—until I tried it on. With its frayed hemline, too tight glittery charcoal fabric, and overly revealing neckline, the dress made me feel like a cheap—albeit high-tech— hooker. Lonely Star Trek fans might imagine women of the future in this dress; fashion-forward gals wouldn’t. 303 Fifth Ave., at 31st St.; 212-777-9564.
Amid the boisterous European crowd at Zara, I glimpsed a strapless, polyester dress with a voluminous skirt. Fusing futuristic touches (icy gray and iridescent polka-dotted palette, studded leather belt) with fifties femininity (knee-length, flared skirt and snug bodice), this was a dramatic choice. I got a childish kick out of twirling in the skirt, and the aggressive brown belt gave me a tiny waistline. It’s just the eye-catching dress to wear to Darkroom. 689 Fifth Ave., at 54th St.; 212-371-2417.
After ditching an overly vigilant saleswoman at Versace, I selected this black, rayon dress. Once I’d zippered, snapped, and hooked myself into the intricate bodice, I found the shaped cups gave my bust a boost, and the geometric neckline nicely mixed sixties mod and futuristic structure. But the shape of the slightly bubbled and diagonally draped skirt looked more accidental than artistic. Though I definitely felt spacey, I didn’t feel comfortable. 647 Fifth Ave., at 52nd St. 212-317-0224.
Alice + Olivia
Although I felt a bit like Judy Jetson gone clubbing in this navy sparkler, the thick straps compensated for a short hemline, and I loved the square sequined texture. Then the Alice + Olivia salesgirl pressured me to buy it, barking that it was the last one, and I hung it back up on the rack (next to an identical minidress). The same night, I saw a picture of Paris Hilton in the same flashy outfit and sighed gratefully that I had not scooped it up. 80 40th St., nr. Sixth Ave.; 212-840-0887.