Designer Billy Reid, who also has a store in the works in Georgetown, has fashioned the best solution. On the penthouse level of a converted warehouse in the meatpacking district, his presentation Saturday night brought movement into a manageable space - like a mini-runway in a chocolate box. The models moved around in a room-within-a-room, decorated like the parlor of a Southern mansion, complete with faux fireplace. Encircling their airy set, the models had to take only a few steps at a time, moving slowly around the perimeter, leaning on the furniture, a few steps and a stop, then a smooth stroll down the middle, as if they were approaching visitors whom the butler had just announced.
Men and women shared the show, and the look was improved-upon-vintage, romantic and strong: a calfskin trench over silk georgette, double-breasted camel-hair jackets and chalk-stripe wool trousers. William Faulkner meets Jay Gatsby.
Smart setting, smart clothes - and guess what, the guys could walk. No one looked stiff. Even in this exceptionally attractive collection of humanity, one man stood out: a 6-foot-2 model named Reid Prebenda, wearing a dark brown leather blazer and plaid flannel trousers. He resembles a blond Tom Cruise. Square jawbone and intense, narrowed eyes. Add a few years and you might actually trust him with your funds. He owned the clothes, or so that confident attitude told you. And he took your heart with him whenever he turned a corner.
"We want a little bit of gracefulness, an air of refinement," says Reid, surveying the tableau from the back of the room. "We started with refined and mixed in rugged. We wanted a very polished look. That's the mood I was into; I wanted things more subtle, a little more toned down."
Behind him was a glorious view of city lights over the Hudson. But Reid's quietly engrossing presentation had a glow of its own. The clothes fitted splendidly and the models oozed elan. It was theater, all right: There was plenty of livable grandeur in the clothes. And also, happily, in every step they took.