There were touches of Paris and Vienna and London and Tunis in the clothes as the New York designers showed their collections for next fall. But a constant theme was the dressier fabrics and more elaborate styles inspired by "Amadeus."
One of the few in the audience who had trouble understanding the "Amadeus" impact was Theodor Pistek, the Oscar-winning costume designer for the film. Before returning to Prague Thursday, he was invited by several designers to see their collections.
"I saw your film and suddenly I realized this was the right spirit for the clothes," designer Danny Noble told Pistek before his collection was presented in a loft near the Hudson River.
In his spring collection, Noble had dubbed his designs "Amadeus"-inspired, and even had his models wear white wigs. "Things were getting rather foppish and dandy, and the Mozart things seemed just right," said the English-born designer.
For his fall show today, Noble used a Mozart requiem as background music, and although the new designs were not so blatantly related to the film as was his last show, the connection was obvious. There were splendid mixes of fabrics and patterns, such as paisley and foulard, moire and organdy, and wonderful mixed lengths, such as short jackets over long shirts, even jackets over coats. Long shirts and patterned vests and jodhpurs, all elements in Noble's last collection, were carried through here, too.
He freely mixed patterns in pastel wool, showing checked shirts poking out from under plaid jackets, and tweed coats over pants in other patterns still. In one costume a pale yellow tweed topped a long plaid shirt, Icelandic knit leggings and flat suede kiltie saddle shoes. Pistek made a circle with his fingers in approval.
In another group Noble showed oversized lightweight sweaters in combinations of pink, orange, red and yellow. "Those are not expected colors for clothes -- he uses colors like a painter, like Gauguin," said Pistek, a painter himself.
"There is a Czech expression that suits this designer: 'He is a man in his place,' " he added, as the ultimate compliment.
Pistek was impressed, too, by Norma Kamali's designs, shown informally today on a set that included drawing-room furniture upholstered in fake leopard skin and draped in gold lace.
The clothes, like the setting, showed off Kamali's marvelous sense of glamor with a special twist. A group of fabulous fake leopard, zebra and broadtail very long coats and jackets were done in rather classic shapes but generously overdosed with accessories. Big fake fur- or feather-trimmed hats, fur scarves (some real) and fur muffs would dress up any outfit, which was exactly Kamali's point.
"These are clothes that eat accessories," said Liz Mazurski, an assistant to the designer who was doing informal commentary on the collection.
"I feel like I am back at the turn of the century," said Pistek, as a model appeared in a riding jacket, ankle-length trumpet skirt, fake leopard stole and fake fur hat.
Kamali mixed not only furs but fabrics, as in a splendid brocade jacket and satin harem pant shown with a gold toque and high-top shoes, or -- Pistek's favorite -- a green leather ankle-length coat, black lace blouse, jacquard wool skirt and a crushed hat with a big feather.
At the next show, by 22-year-old Marc Jacobs for his company Sketchbook, Pistek caught sight of the first model and said, "I feel as though I've just advanced 100 years."
The models bounced down the runway at the midtown Century Cafe in loose tops and stirrup pants, little schoolgirl jumpers, smocks and pinch-pleat dresses in unexpectedly grown-up fabrics -- brocaded velvet, silver corduroy, Lurex and cloque'. To underscore the little girl look, the models carried pastel lunch boxes and helium balloons, and the music sounded like nursery tunes. (At one moment when the sound system failed, the models continued skipping, humming to themselves.)
Jacobs may well win the prize for the biggest accessories this season, with the tallest stovepipe hats (in chiffon), the longest "charm bracelets" (worn around the neck and dangling to the knees) and the biggest pearls (in acid green). His buttons were often copper pennies, and "smile" pins were used to decorate pantyhose.
Bob Mackie, who designs for Hollywood types -- including Bernadette Peters, who was in the audience for his show -- sticks to a more standard way of making clothes glamorous. He's obviously been to North Africa, or so it seems from the scroll embroideries on the sleeves of his coats, and perhaps to Morocco for the mosaic and other patterns of his fuzzy knits and embroideries on gowns.
Even after seeing these New York collections, Pistek was surprised when buyers, such as Jerry Solovei, vice president of Elizabeth Arden, called "Amadeus," "one of the biggest influences in fashion today."
"I never expected it," Pistek said modestly. But he hopes the effect will spill over into menswear. "Now a man in a brocade tuxedo -- that really would be something," he said with a smile.