More and more exhausted by the grind of the seasonal brouhaha, some savvy designers are focusing their expertise towards pieces that work well as separates rather than entire "collections" that have to be worn like Garanimals. Gone are the days when women have entire ensembles by one designer in their closet. Modern women want to put their own blend of independent style to use. Dressing is like dating. Seldom do you find all of the fabulous qualities that blow your skirt up in one person (and when you do, marry them immediately). The big problem with marrying most designers, is that for reasons of incompatibility common to the trade, a girl could have serious problems between the hours of midnight and 8AM with a designing spouse. The ever-so handsome Robert Danes would not create such problems, but alas is already married to the very lovely Rachel Danes, who partners his business. Robert is busily working on expanding his line to include an array of wearable separates. Known for his beautifully orchestrated biased cut gowns that make ordinary women appear otherworldly, these new pieces are cut closer to his heart. With this group of clothing he's doing what he likes first, with an art before commerce approach, rather than letting the majority vote lead the way. The best of his tried and trued basics that he's done before, combined with new ideas that he truly loves, these year round wearables have become an integrated part of the collection, and are exactly not, seasonal. Salon visits by appointment. 212-941-5680 @476 Broome Street N.Y.C.

Designer Kalinka, owner of one of the best giggles in town, is often inspired by fabric that grabs her soul and makes her cry. "If you're not going to wear black, then there has to be a good reason". Her collections revolve around pieces that can stand alone. THE skirt, and the right jacket for now are within every collection. She doesn't want the pressure of doing a lot of styles as peripheral line extensions, but cuts to the chase by delivering the right pieces. Figuring it all out for you, her favorite skirt length for now falls right above the knee. Kalinka offers a salon shop area where you can buy most suits in regular sizes, and order custom, by appointment. She finds that most customers are starving for the personal attention that can't be found in many stores, and "won't let them out of there unless they look right." From actresses to stockbrokers, she serves it up to a new generation of business execs who need confidence with a modern edge. 212-564-7112; Open 10-7:30.


Eau de Kalinka: 333 West 39th Street.

Once upon a time, Terri Gillis opened a baseball cap venue on Ludlow Street. After tireless renovation and constant expansion TG-170 and its clairvoyant proprietress have become renowned for their ability to launch the careers of new designers - based on foresight lightyears ahead of the rest of fashion world. Using her finely honed sense of cutting-edge style, the industrious Ms. Gillis has developed a wholesale line of personal favorites to launch for Spring '98, with a few immediate pieces for die-hard fans in the now. The collection stems from her need for yet another creative outlet, combined with market voids that she felt were necessary to fill. Everything is reasonably priced and there's always an awesome sale bin. 170 Ludlow Street@212-995-8660.