Ellen Tracy Blends Strength, Romance

There arose an understated intensity to Ellen Tracy’s fall ’94 collection as it unfolded last Thursday at Bullock’s, South Coast Plaza. It reflected a strength without screaming, timeless styling without being conservative.

Designer Linda Allard, who appeared after the benefit for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, said her inspiration came from Napoleon and Josephine, Bogie and Bacall, “Wuthering Heights” and “Anna Karenina.”

Though romance dominated her design direction, it did not parlay into the fragile and mushy softness of obviously romantic clothes.

Instead, she chose fabrics with substance--crepes, wool, twills, jersey--and interpreted them into silhouettes that hinted to her influences. There were military accents, from the officer jackets and Lycra jodhpur pants to details of red piping and gold buttons. Suit jackets buttoned high up. Knee-high boots and thigh-high socks reached just short of flirty fingertip length skirts. Trench coats and other long jackets belonged on a foggy city street.


While Allard emphasized brown for day and left black for night, she stressed color throughout the line. “Color is very important now,” she said between meeting customers in the Ellen Tracy department at Bullock’s. “We’ve had neutrals for too long.”

Clothes are worn monochromatically and paired with leg wear and shoes of another color--usually a matte Java. Among the colors featured: topaz, plum, russet, bittersweet and oatmeal.

If colors like those don’t arouse your taste buds, Allard’s cookbook “Absolutely Delicious” (Random House, $24) could. Released in the spring, the collection of her favorite recipes is illustrated with her watercolor drawings.