Geoffrey Beene is America's answer to Paris and Milan," pronounced Neiman Marcus vice president Kay Kerr at yesterday's opening here of the fall ready-to-wear fashion showings.
Beene was yesterday's star at this round of the fall fashion traveling road show which began five weeks ago in Milan, continued in Paris and London and winds up this week on Seventh Avenue with an average of eight shows a day.
Beene hasn't strayed from the big, loose and easy clothes that have become his trademark, but although what changes there are are subtle, they are nonetheless important. And of course big and loose and easy is what fashion is all about this season.
Beene has been turned on ny the look and sensous feel of corduroy. He uses it for dropped waistline dresses (belted at the waist) as well as in a double-faced version (at $18 a yard) in an evening coat.
Kaspar, too, was one of yesterday's big winners. Although less revolutionary than many of his compatriots, there is no designer more skilled or innovative in adapting current courture styles into ready-to-wear, easy-to- wear and - perhaps most importantly - easy-to-buy fashions.
His skill is reflected in the success he has had in the past year with the Joan Leslie - firm - and perhaps to mark this success he held his show at the Hotel Pierre rather than at the Seventh Avenue showroom. His clothes were mostly light, supple fabrics with tucks, pleats, ruffles and soft-tone colors to emphasize their new femininity.
Beene's daytime skirt length cut off below the calf, but his evening lengths never touch the floor. "Long dresses lack versatility and lock you into a style that's too special and suits only one ocassion," says Beene.
"Ankle-length dresses are easier to wear and can be worn to many more occassions."
Cashmere has given way to alpaca. "Cashmere has gotten too scarce," he says, and printed cotton flannel shows up unexpectedly teamed with big, thick knit wool sweaters.
Between the showing of his Beene Bag (less expensive and mostly sportswear) collection and his couture fashions, a young man wandered the center aisle of the Beene showroom in a suit marked with narrowing over-stiched seams. At first mistaken for a late arriv they were a very spiffily dressed bunch - he turned out to be modeling the first of Beene's new men's sportswear collection. It borrows from his women's collection, including coat like his own as well as an excellent blouson and the smock jacket that Beene also wears himself.