Taking New York
Unfazed by Hurricane Floyd,By Nadine Kam
designer Margie Tsai triumphs
at Manhattan's Fashion Week
Designer Margie Tsai moved her Spring 2000 fashion show in New York from her usual Nolita (North of Little Italy) haunts to 6th Avenue and, in taking the stage before such luminaries as Bill Blass and Victor Alfaro, found herself in the eye of the fashion world, and a hurricane.
A rising star on the international fashion scene, Tsai is an artist in demand at Women's Wear Daily, Paper magazine and several Japan magazines. Her clothing is worn by MTV VJs and stars of "Melrose Place."
Margie Tsai photo
Assymetrical necklines and hems were featured in some
garments. This blouse has plastic for contrast.
Back in Hawaii, Tsai is just another local girl fretting about renewing her Hawaii driver's license, one of her ties to home.
"How long does it take? Do I have to take a test?"
The sooner she takes care of business, the sooner she can head off to Kailua Beach.
The trip back home for the 1987 Radford High School graduate was her reward for having survived New York's Fashion Week and Hurricane Floyd, which hit Manhattan the day of her show. Like the other designers, Tsai's show was set in a tent in Bryant Park.
"The tents were billowing and we could hear the wind howling, but we were like, 'Let's do fashion!'
"We were so focused on the collections we had no idea how crazy it was out there. It was chaos but the newspapers still covered the shows. It was just as big news as the storm."
With New York now leading the show circuit formerly led by London, Milan and Paris, Tsai said she has time to rest before buyers get back from Europe with their orders. She's hoping she won them over with her millennial collection, with garments made from or embellished with such materials as opaque plastic and rubberized paper.
As futuristic as that may sound, don't expect the bubble suits or unitards associated with Hollywood's version of 21st century apparel.
"Fashion is not going to change much from what it is now," Tsai said. "Shapes are still going to be simple and very wearable. Clothes still have to be suitable for peoples' lifestyles."
Tsai presents halter and sleeveless tops, often paired with A-line skirts with asymmetrical hems. Some solid-color skirts have a panel of printed fabric in the front, which give the illusion of wrap styling.
Tsai also presents ultrasuede, a fabric associated with the '70s and Halston, in updated shapes. An ankle-length dress is shown in two contrasting shades of ultrasuede, with a plastic collar.
Because plastic appears only as an embellishment between seams and at hemlines, collars and forming cap sleeves, all the garments are breathable.
As a finale, she showed garments covered with strips of ultrasuede cut to look as if the wearer is caught up in a sheet of plastic of the sort that holds six packs of soda cans together.
Tsai said she took her inspiration from Chinese paper cuttings used to form colorful hanging lantern shapes.
"Ultrasuede was perfect for the webbing. It has a character similar to plastic in that it doesn't require finished edges. I liked the way it draped along the body."
While on vacation, Tsai doesn't escape her work. At the beach, for instance, she receives a phone call from her contractor, asking how many buttonholes should go into one of her new jackets.
"Even when you're relaxing, everything goes through your eyes and finds its way into your work. Maybe something you see doesn't get into your collection this season, but the next one.
"The things you see and use every day might also inspire you. I touch plastic, I use paper to write. Even garbage can inspire an artist."
With a glass of ice water in her hand, she can see the future.
Transparency. Bubbles. Liquid. Sounds right for the 21st century.
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