Holding Steady With Elegance and Precision
Helga, one of the few grande dames of Los Angeles fashion, is a designer whose time has come--again.
For the past few years, women who wanted to look trendy were swaggering around in layers of what looked like loose-fitting rags. Such women did not wear clothes by Helga during those years, because Helga refused to design such things. She remained true to her upper-crust style: understated shapes, imported luxury fabrics, precision tailoring. She trusted that women would eventually regain their fashion sanity and revert to what has been considered elegant through most of modern times.
Helga was apparently right. Refinement has returned to the runways this year. And once again, Helga’s styles are not only for conservatives, but for any woman who understands what the Duchess of Windsor may have simply called “quality.”
Quality is not a synonym for dull.
Helga’s evening dresses, for example, are made of the shimmery, luminous, featherweight stuff from which fantasy is spun. It is possible to imagine her gowns on fairy-tale royalty. Or even, perhaps, on Alexis and Krystle (on an especially tasteful night).
Her daytime clothes are shaped for the ‘80s, but with a classical flair. Skirts are slim and below the knee--nothing too trendily long or short. Precision-tailored jackets are longer or, in some cases, shorter than usual. And sleeves on suits, dresses and coats are subtly dramatized in one way or another (wide ones, narrow ones, puffed ones).
The designer and her husband/business partner, Walter Oppenheimer, travel the world each year to search for extraordinary fabrics. Back home, Helga shapes the fabrics to fit the needs of women whose wardrobe “musts” include travel suits, business suits, dresses for luncheons and cocktails--and, of course, a couple of knockout evening gowns each season.
Her color scheme includes all the fall basics: brown, gray, black, taupe, tan, silver, gold. But with fabrics as luxurious as these, even the most basic tweeds, silk prints and chiffon velvets have a visual richness that sets them apart.