For inspiration in designing her latest collection, Nicole Miller had to look no farther than her 15-year-old son.
"He let me in his backpack," Miller quipped backstage after debuting her spring collection at Fashion Week on Friday. Her son, Palmer, grinned.
Miller's collection seemed aimed at a downtown, 20-something woman, with many references to street chic, from bicycle clothing to messenger bags to bomber jackets. Above all, there was color — bold bursts of it.
"It's no longer black with a little color," she said. "It's color, with a little black."
Asked her influences, she mentioned "the whole bicycle thing — I got really interested in vintage bicycle clothing. And skateboarding, and Formula One." Indeed, her notes for the show referred to "a skateboard shredding through the air, the zooming tempo of an inline track, the velocity of a bicycle racing toward the goal."
Yet there was some delicacy, too, with one of the biggest hits a gray and peach beaded dress with graceful cutouts in back.
A super-bright patchwork print was one visual theme — it appeared first on leggings, then on a silk print blouse — circa 1980, the design notes specified — then on a silk skirt with stripes, and then, most bracingly, on an entire, eye-popping jumpsuit, circa 1985.
One would have to be young, thin and gorgeous to pull that one off — even more so, perhaps, to pull off two sheer applique tanks that proudly displayed the wearer's breasts.
But other designs were less daring and a lot more wearable. A blue and purple "inside-out" reversible raincoat, for example, would look good on a variety of shapes and forms, as would a lovely black-and-white striped silk blouse. Or Miller's yummy lambskin bomber jacket.
Models wore multicolored fishskin shoes, sandals and boots which added greatly to the lighthearted feeling of the show. (The Disney star Ashley Tisdale was one of the front-row attendees.)
Backstage, Miller referred to her greatly stepped up efforts on the Web. Her company has made a major switch to advertising on the Web, rather than magazines, and she has just started a blog.
"I myself only shop online," she said. "This is the way things are going."