Antonio Berardi Crystallizes

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The thing about Swarovski-sponsored shows is that while designers can't afford to show without the sponsorship, the requisite use of crystals within the collection is often too forced, too obvious. So it was great to see, for the first time, a designer really make use of the Swarovski elements without ruining the actual clothes. Antonio Berardi showed his Fall 09 collection in what looked like a little chapel in the 11th. Editors and buyers squeezed into the tiny venue like sardines. (I held my knees to my chest to avoid repeatedly kicking Glenn O'Brien, seated directly in front of me.) I spent the first few looks staring at the hot pink lipstick but recovered in time to admire the paneled black and white dresses. Everything was level, so even in the second row I missed all but the over-the-knee part of the boots - some were loose black leather, others shearling. There were furs with crystal armbands and little lilac dresses over charcoal tights. The structured Balenciaga silhouette popped up again, like at Manish, this time in black brocade-like shifts. The clothes were well-tailored, wearable and just plain pretty.