Neil Bieff has always believed that clothes should be secondary to the woman.
When we caught up with the Ossining-based designer, whom we wrote about in May 2015, we were pleased to see that he maintains the same philosophy — that a woman should wear the garment, rather than the garment wear the woman.
“What I like about my clothes is that what people see first is you,” he says. “And then they’ll notice what you’re wearing. I think it kind of brings you out, which is what I like about it.”
Bieff was visiting Mary Jane Denzer in White Plains, where he unveiled his newest collection, one defined by richness in color and beadwork. The garments — which include gowns, short dresses, jumpsuits, skirts and blouses — are characteristic of Bieff’s signature style, sexy and feminine but not girly. Using iridescent chiffon fabric, he layers the material as an artist would layer paints, a skill drawn from his painting studies at Syracuse University in upstate New York. The results are free-flowing designs that complement the female figure. For this reason, his clothes are not what he calls “hanger clothes,” as they do not contain preformed shapes but rather mold themselves to the woman underneath.
In this collection, which Bieff calls one of his best yet, the designer takes his passion for color and turns it upside down, placing the tinted layers underneath a sheer top layer for a subtle pop that draws the eye.
“This is a collection that’s really about what’s underneath the dress,” Bieff says. “It’s really a surprise.”
Bieff takes WAG through a walkthrough of his garments in the store, noting his personal favorites.
“I like these a lot,” he says, pointing to a nearby rack. “But I like them all a lot.”
One of his standout pieces is a black gown adorned with hand-stitched beads in a pattern that appears to mimic the polka dot fabric layer, which sits underneath a layer of lilac.
What initially appear as hints of polka dots and lilacs is exposed by a sexy slit.
“It’s very subtle — and then you notice it,” Bieff says, “the miniscule details. It’s beautiful on the woman.”
Bieff points to another dress, which is all-over black with peek-a-boo layers of green.
“The top is sheer,” he says, “so it puts in a whole third color — you.”
He points to yet another number, which is a short-hemmed dress that includes brighter shades of pink and orange.
“These are authentic brass ornaments from India,” Bieff says, pointing to the beads that are hand-stitched on the garment.
And he notes yet another — a true showstopper — crafted using some seven or eight layers of color.
“They’ve evolved, but they’re drastically different,” Bieff says of his dresses.
As a master colorist, Bieff has always been drawn to the art of layering shades, tints and tones. But for this collection, he adds a touch of delicacy, softening the color underneath without compromising its presence.
“I used to do bicolor clothes years and years and years ago and people just wouldn’t go for it,” he says. “So, I thought, wouldn’t it be wonderful if you put it underneath and you’ll get the same effect, but it’s much more subtle? And then, I went a little crazy with it.”
In Bieff’s case, a little crazy brings a lot of good.