Fashion Week: Betsey Johnson Sends Out Real Models and Real Crossdressers; Bibhu Mohapatra Reminds Us to Fear the Future

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It would take a heart of stone to dislike a Betsey Johnson runway show--and not just because she always blasts Mick and Keef.

The punk-chic mainstay debut another kaleidoscopic fall line at Lincoln Center on Monday evening; the Valentine's Day presentation was divided, appropriately, into "He Loves Me Not," her somber, boutique ode to New Wave and gothic distress, and then "He Loves Me," a capsule of under-$100 frocks in buoyant hues and classic party silhouettes. Animal prints abounded in "He Loves Me Not," down to the thin leggings on the models (who also sported black bob wigs with sprayed-in lace motif), and draped crop-tops displayed Johnson's love for music, literally, with boldly emblazoned boombox outlines. Skintight Bowie-style pantsuits, in festive red plaids or spattered animal prints, also leant a downcast, vampiric vibe.

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"He Loves Me," by comparison, was a vibrant shock of attitude; the frocks were worn by non-models, including a few smirking men who shook their hips and threw their blond bob wigs into the photography pit; the show program explained proudly that these amateur catwalkers were Johnson employees, and mostly store managers. A fun, functional way to get that overtime. While Johnson's collection was a bit disappointing--reminiscent without being reinvigorated, with some serious jungle overload--credit the dame for embracing her own, every step of the way. When she emerged to take her ritual runway cartwheel and dance with Sex and the City stylist Patricia Field, the entire tent grinned back at her.

But not all models have reason to smile, as Bibhu Mohapatra reminded Lincoln Center on Wednesday afternoon. The Orissa, Indian-born designer was notched as one of the NY Times' "Four New Designers to Watch" recently, and the buzz translated to dramatically long lines at his showroom. Inside, he displayed asymmetrical gowns and a piecework motif; long gowns were segmented sharply in satin and lace, with abrupt contrasting overlays. A pleasant, if unremarkable, shot of futuristic glamour. The sparkling silhouettes draped prettily off the models, who wore uniformly dour expressions as "Lux Aeterna" from Requiem for a Dream boomed forebodingly throughout the room. In the future, we shall all be angular and afraid.

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