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Bill Blass uses house's archives to create his collection of spring dresses

Bill Blass prepared his spring collection of dresses based on looks of the house's archives and presented Thursday at New York Fashion Week.

The design studio led by Prabal Gurung found their inspiration in "the pretty young things" who so often are called to cocktail parties and other dressy occasions.

While Bill Blass might be most famous for its tailored sportswear, the "unsung heroes" of the label have been the dresses and gowns rich in embroideries and other intricacies, the design team explained in notes provided at the presentation at the New York Public Library.

The women who would wear a sweet blush-colored silk-satin dress with an embroidered rosette tulle underskirt or the lovely cocktail dress made of ivory and black tulle and decorated with black beads and lace are those who "take fashion risks and exude sensuality," the designers said. "They are confident and do no seek approval from anyone. This collection is a nod to Mr. Blass and undoubtedly, to the women of yesterday and today who will forever dress for themselves."

Blass himself retired from the company in 1999 and died in 2002. Since then, the label has struggled to find the right creative viewpoint. Both Lars Nilsson and most recent creative director Michael Vollbracht won positive reviews but ultimately failed to strike the right balance between staying true to the ladylike Blass heritage while courting new edgier customers.

The fresh-looking ivory chenille embroidered organza dress covered by a matching trenchcoat with just a peek of tulle peeking out at the bottom in the spring collection was a strong step forward, as was a gunmetal silk organza dress with crystal and metallic foil concentrated on the midriff.

A tulip dress with a lace underskirt that had a stiff hoop shape was not.

Moving forward, design direction will come from Peter Som, who was recently named creative director.

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