Fashion Week: Hilton Sisters and Gossip Girls Go Back to School with Alice + Olivia

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Heather Baysa
Yesterday's Alice + Olivia presentation launched the Spring 2014 line of this native New York label, replete with sophisticated, whimsy-chocked apparel.

Let's just preface this with: the clothes were magnificent. And that's less of a complement than something designer Stacey Bendet just seems to understand--magnificence is protocol, decadence is standard operating procedure. It's definitely the case in this collection that she described as "the crossroads of preppy-meets-pretty."

The regal party dresses mesmerized, managing to somehow give the impression of being very glittery indeed without the employment of any actual glitter. A creme and muted pastel color palette on delicate beaded cardigans and full, modest skirts conjured an air of the old campus--not the library but the quad. It would be a ready fit for any coed in Whit Stillman's Damsels in Distress, or even some perversely well-adjusted reincarnation of Sylvia Plath. This is a wardrobe for the classiest of sorority sisters--"refined" and "discerning" were likely tossed about in some brainstorming session or another.

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Heather Baysa
We know that the use of childish-looking models is a creative choice, and a common one at that this Fashion Week, but on several counts we were struck by the alarming suspicion that some of them were actual children. Maybe it was the after-school-snack ready pretzels and orange juice backstage, or their tendencey to communicate with each other exclusively in giggles. There was a general atmosphere of squirminess as hairdressers furiously combed and spray-shellacked tangly ponytails.

Nevertheless, the barely-collegiate brigade exhibited a stark focus at the presentation, standing rather impressively still in multi-inched heels for more than two hours as hundreds of cameras flashed in their creaseless faces. Every so often, at the beckon of some discreet signal never could figure out, an attendant would run over to a model with a glass and bring the straw to her lips. It was the first time we've ever seen anyone take a drink of water without inclining their head even slightly.

They didn't flinch when the late Gossip Girl's Kelly Rutherford let out a crowd-parting scream and ran into the arms of co-alum Taylor Momsen, or when Paris and Nicky Hilton arrived, immediately bee-lined for the photo-op, and showed us how to really strike a pose. Lydia Hearst, resolved to be the less-flashy heiress at the party, was spotted greeting Bendet.

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Heather Baysa
But overall it was the brand that gave the impression of exclusivity. Stand-out pieces included handsomely tailored white blazers paired with a white skirt or shorts, the new mini-sized structured handbag, and a full-length black evening gown with involved ruffles--the very picture of luxury if we had to picture luxury as a dress.

And why not flaunt priveledge? Follow us here. This is what high fashion is all about--ogling the finer things--and Bendet gets it. For all of the rebel-inspired, stylishly-rendered pyramid studs and leather in the New York fashionsphere, we've just got to think that a $100+ pre-distressed rock tee isn't fooling anyone. This collection is up front about excess. In the new Alice + Olivia book, lace is gratuitous, whites are immaculate, clutches are too tiny and pretty to ever serve a practical purpose, and the cocktails all have that single big ice cube you only find in drinks with prices ending in -teen.

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