© 2013 Diana

The First Signs of Spring

Author: Eric Wilson

Ah, the first sunny and warm day of spring in New York. If you were out on Fifth Avenue at lunchtime, you would have seen just about everyone smiling a bit more brightly than usual. 

Why, there was Eliot Spitzer, the former New York governor, in his shirtsleeves, crossing 58th Street while talking on his cellphone about a court case. And two blocks farther down was Mary McFadden, wearing a long coat and a hat of indeterminate ethnicity, out shopping for an upcoming vacation to Bhutan. Bergdorf Goodman was packed with shoppers, and so was Barneys New York.

At Barneys, the pretty magazine and party people were all wearing bright colors, like Hannah Bronfman in a cropped pink sweater and a white tulip skirt; Lisa Airan in a pink knit dress; and Daniella Vitale, the store’s chief merchant, in a sunny yellow top that matched the ranunculus in vases along a dining table set on the fourth floor for a lunch for the Belgian designer Cédric Charlier. Mr. Charlier’s spring collection has been a hit at Barneys, so he is touring the stores this week in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. 

“It’s the American dream,” Mr. Charlier said.

For those who have not yet been introduced, Mr. Charlier started his signature collection last year in Paris, backed by the Italian manufacturing company Aeffe. He had previously been seen as a rising star for his flirty, print-driven dresses as the designer of Cacharel until the label shifted suddenly in another direction. It has taken a few seasons for the fashion crowd to get used to Mr. Charlier on his own, but Ms. Vitale was one of his first supporters, buying the line after seeing just a few looks – minimalist dresses with subtle draping details and blasts of pure color.

“I think it was a bit of a surprise,” Mr. Charlier said. “People were not expecting to see clothes that fit closely to the body from me. They wanted prints.”

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