Bewitching looks for sultry nights

Designers, ideally, are like magicians: They take even the most ordinary woman and, poof!, make her look stupendous. And like magicians, some of their most incredible feats involve the least amount of hoopla. So watch closely now because this season is full of Houdinis. But you won’t witness complicated numbers in which the focus is on all sorts of ruffles and flourishes. The idea is to play up a woman’s lines, not make them disappear under layers and layers of fabric. No tricky hocus-pocus or big, fussy doodads to clutter things up; just simple, sleek, all-out glamour. Often, it begins with black, but by no means is it basic. From there, almost anything is possible, as long as it’s sophisticated and luxurious-often even witty. The combinations that seem to work best are those that incorporate simple, comfortable but sexy shapes with lavish fabrics and materials (rich velvets, satins and laces mixed with sequins, beads, pearls and rhinestones). You’ll also witness a lot of sleight of hand ? la trompe l’oeil treatments-fake jewels, belts with clasps, bracelets and the like often woven right into the fabric. The result? Sheer black magic.