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.

Michael Kors' Safari Sportswear

Godfrey Deeny
September 14th, 2011 @ 4:09 PM - New York

The purest expression of American sportswear - still this nation's single greatest contribution to fashion - was on display Wednesday, Sept. 14, in New York at the latest runway show by Michael Kors.

For spring 2012, Kors looked to Africa, cocktail hour and poolside for ladies enjoying a safari lodge, and gentlemanly rustic for guys on a dual and urban ramble - since the designer likes to show men and women on the same catwalk. The whole look could have come across as a terrible pastiche, but in Kors' savvy hands it made for a snappy, intriguing collection and a great set of highly commercial clothes.

"Now Voyageur… Memories of Africa," read the program notes of this show by Kors, whose house celebrated its 30th anniversary this spring.

Staged in Theatre, the largest show tent inside Lincoln Center, nerve center of the New York season, the show - in terms of color palette - was also a blessed contrast to practically every other collection staged in Manhattan these past eight days. Where the majority of collections featured hackneyed florals and uber bright pastels, Kors went for muddied hues and creamy animal tones - like impala or antelope. Every one of them seemed right.

Kors was also in a forgiving mood when it came to silhouette, sending out roomy utility pants in hemp, an excellent trench in tiger print duchesse satin and great sunset hued caftans.

Also highly admirable were bikinis and swimsuits in snakeskin prints, and an extended series of sarongs, scarfs, casual pants and coats all made in dip-dyed linens and cottons, giving the collection a tropically exotic air. Plus, a fabulous selection of rough tote bags and satchels - many finished with alligator straps - made for sure fired winners at the cash register.

The collection did recall a Safari chic moment Kors had back in the Nineties during his tenure as designer of Paris label Celine; but this new New York version had that bit more élan and ease - rather like the designer himself these days.

Kors took his customary extended tour of the runway, brimming with endorphins and bon homie. Hard to know of a designer who looks happier on a catwalk than Kors, then again after this flawless example of sportswear Americana he was right to feel chuffed.

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