NYFW Day 1: Nicole Miller's hits and misses

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Nicole Miller, the designer best known for her formalwear — think satin, form-fitting dresses beloved by sorority girls — took a step on the stark side with her edgy Spring 2011 collection. The show was held away from the hubbub of the tents on Mercer Street in Soho, and the 39 looks presented were variations on a theme, bordering on monotonous.

Loose and deconstructed garments in flowing silk georgette and chiffon were paired with tailored button-downs and military-inspired jackets of parchment and twill. Looks were multifaceted, including scarves, suspenders, vests, and oversized tees often worn simultaneously atop floor-skimming skirts and dresses. The palette of almost exclusively black, white, and graphite grounded the look, and kept the seemingly haphazard layering from feeling busy.

A gray, rubber, inside-out coat with black silk organza sleeves was charming, and white and slate mingled gracefully in an ethereal floor-length slip dress. A series of translucent ombre skirts hit a rare feminine note. Working within the limited color scheme, Miller explored fabric opacities, mixing and layering to remarkable, if occasionally unflattering, results.

While the collection had its share of misses, the on-target looks — like an asymmetrical, cowl-neck khaki, silk habotai wrapped-vest — were profoundly elegant, and undeniably superior to the satin homecoming dresses of Nicole Miller’s past.

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