"I can't believe the words are coming from my mouth, but I really think the best thing I've done for next spring is the double-breasted blazer," said Willi Smith, whose collection opened the final round of showings in New York last week. "I've pared down my clothes to real simplicity, like the original Willi, without frills, without attempts to be trendy, but without being boring."
Smith also gave a no-frills presentation, with models in five vignettes in his showroom giving buyers a chance to walk around and see things up close. "At this point, all the drama, all the sensationalism, just isn't appropriate for the clothes," he said.
He's included big shirts, short trouser skirts, baggy pants -- the new version with three pleats in place of the usual two -- and more patterns to give a surface interest to the cottons. "Nothing revolutionary," he says.
Smith, who plans to be in Washington in mid-November, was surprised to learn that word was out he was doing a show at Howard University. "I never said I was coming to Howard. Years ago I applied to the university, but that is as close as I got."
He was also surprised to hear about the young man in town claiming to be his nephew. "I called everyone in my family and asked, 'Is there an Aaron in the family I don't know about?' " There wasn't.
The young man who posed as Smith's nephew said he had a suitcase full of Willi Wear clothes. "That's too bad," teased Smith. "I thought I would at least get a customer out of it."