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The late Bill Blass (who passed away in 2002), began his legendary career in the l940's, and was known for his all American way with tailoring. He retired in 2000, and in 2003, Michael Vollbracht was named as head designer of the company (replacing Lars Nilsson). Mr. Vollbracht has had a rather difficult time truly putting his own stamp onto his designs, and has met with some rather negative reviews- although fall 2005, which he says was inspired by "Paris in the spring", and relied on a color palette of steel gray mixed with mauve, was an improvement over his last several efforts. Still, I can't help but feel that the strongest pieces (which were his tailored daytime numbers and the first group out) could have just as easily come straight from Bill's amazing archives.

Standouts included his first number out- the midcalf, slouchy winter white wool coat shown unbuttoned over a natty gray pinstripe double breasted pantsuit (very 'Blass'); a snug fitting abbreviated snakeskin jacket worn with taupe pinstripe trousers and a chinchilla scarf at the neck; a snakeskin fitted knee length coat paired with taupe pinstripe pants; a brown tattersall jacket, rust and brown silk paisley shirt, taupe twill pants, accessorized with an oversized fur bag slung across the body; a winter white wool knee length duffle coat; and a fitted black wool jacket, white cotton shirt and silvery brocade pants. As for evening, it was the rather predictable assortment of little cocktail dresses and evening gowns, including one graceful and floaty beige layered chiffon number with a jewel-encrusted neck.

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