Apparently Whitney Port is mightier than the economy. At a time when several celebrity fashion lines are being canned, put on hold, or downgraded — as with former Hills co-star Lauren Conrad’s eponymous effort, first on hiatus and later bumped to Kohl’s — Port’s people leaked sneak-peek photos of her Whitney Eve fall 2009 collection, officially making her the only person from MTV’s initially fashion-related reality franchise to be creating fashion-related buzz in real life. And while Whitney’s designs won’t exactly have Marc Jacobs quaking in his kilt, they’re easily the best work any of those Hills girls have churned out. We realize this is faint praise, considering Heidi willingly slapped her name on shorts with a thumb-length inseam, but the fact remains that Whitney’s efforts could have been way more embarrassing than they are.
Port gets points for echoing the obvious eighties vibe on New York’s runways in February, cutting blacks with hot fuchsia and designing one striped black strapless cocktail dress you might see a John Hughes heroine wearing to school with a blazer and cowboy boots. It’s nice to see she’s paying attention — especially compared to LC’s could’ve-been-any-old-season jersey dresses and Montag’s has-to-be-1989-because-I-look-like-a-Whitesnake-video-vixen zebra prints. And at least Whitney’s new stuff hints at mild stylistic evolution, as if she actually learned something while “working” at DVF. While Conrad’s benign second collection displayed very little growth, and Montag’s clothes merely begged us to take a page from her leaflet and flash our junk as much as possible, Port’s looks like she’s tracking her life from L.A. to New York. The first Whitney Eve collection, all pastels and frills, represented the Whitney who bit her lip and fake typed while Lauren yakked about Brody Jenner; the fall 2009 line has a darker, edgier flavor befitting the Whitney who moved east and got her heart broken by a rocker who looks like a Jonas Brother crossed with one of the Bee Gees. Indeed, her clothes are exactly what you’d expect to see on an otherwise wholesome college girl who’s bitter that her poseur boyfriend played her for a fool.
Of course, the flip side is that said college girl probably can’t afford to drop $350 per piece for her Angry Scorned Woman phase when she could get countless similar items for less at H&M. Whitney’s financial backers may not be feeling the economic crunch, but her demographic surely is. And while her line does feel personal, each shiny frock — or those high-waisted wraparound skirts with thigh slits — is a little too ripped from a scene in The City in which, say, Port gazes at a martini while wondering if she can trust her boyfriend, Jay; nods seriously when a girl who dated Jay suggests Whitney probably can’t trust him; or stands outside a club shedding one picturesque tear while explaining to Jay why she shouldn’t trust him. The crotch-skimming blazer paired with lace leggings even evokes one of our major complaints about Whitney’s personal style: no matter the weather, the kid acts allergic to pants. So although it makes sense that Whitney would design for girls who want to live just like she does, basing your collection on items you already own is at best lazy. Even if it did work for Kate Moss.
But, lazy or not, it’s not like anyone had Whitney pegged as the second coming of DVF anyway, even if she did have a desk there for fifteen minutes. Frankly, we didn’t even think she’d be the second coming of Old Navy. It’s nice to be surprised by someone, even if the bar has been set so low, it’s practically in hell. That’s why we fully anticipate enjoying LC’s upcoming young-adult novel: It only really requires complete sentences to be a success. Maybe that’s all it takes for there to be hope for these MTV boneheads, after all: lowered expectations.
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