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Michael Vollbracht, who had spent two years collaborating with Bill Blass on his memoir, took over the reigns from Lars Nilsson this season. When he made his mark as a designer in the 80's, he did so with artsy, hand painted, colorful fantasy- like clothes, often in voluminous shapes. One could say that in design philosophy, Michael is about as far away from the Bill Blass aesthetic (which was built around a certain chic, classic, tailored approach) as can be.

Unfortunately, this fact was all too apparent on the Blass runway for spring. I'd have to say that the highlight of the show was his use of iconic models from the 70's and 80's (Pat Cleveland, Karen Bjornson, Diane DeWitt, Alva Chin) who still look amazing and literally brought the house down. Simply put, the clothes presented looked very old fashioned and not very exciting- and though they were very derivative of designs Mr. Blass had shown (the menswear tailoring, natty pantsuits, clutch coats, cocktail dresses, formal ballskirts) what was missing was the 'snappiness'- a word favored by Bill Blass (I can still hear the snap of his fingers as he uttered the word). In short, there is very little that would drive somebody into the store to shell out the big bucks for these lifeless and ordinary clothes. Oh, and I think I can safely predict that Nancy Kissinger, Mica Ertegun, and Casey Ribicoff are unlikely to snatch up that 'BB' logo tank top to wear under their tailored pantsuits or out to dinner this season.