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The bold and beautiful reach runways in NYC


Jason Wu took risks playing with proportion for spring.

"The graphic contrast of the opposing concepts is a strong theme of the collection," he said in his notes. He said he likes taking things "out of their usual context."

A shocking-pink, coated-nylon trench - sporty with its hood and drawstring - somehow complemented dressy pleated pants, as did a sparkly sequined collar on a workday shirtdress.

For evening, he mixed a photo-negative digital print T-shirt with a black silk gazar skirt with a feathered peplum around the hips.

There were, in fact, a lot of peplums in this collection, drawing the eye to a spot many women don't want to emphasize, but the feather versions were light enough to pull off the look. They're probably a better choice than the high-waisted pants that pouffed out in the same spot.


Derek Lam is dumping a new daytime wardrobe of elegant, unfussy pieces in his lady's lap.

His "California dreamin'" muse could start with brunch in skinny navy trousers with an exaggerated white cuff and silk crepe shirt under a sweater.

If it were a lunch date, she could step it up with a kaleidoscope-print shirt, sweater and black, bone and yellow patchwork snake skirt. Cruising the afternoon away in the convertible, she'd soak up the sunshine in his yellow and caramel leather jacket, long and lean white crocheted T-shirt and matching skirt.

And, when it turns a little chilly, there's the bold coral-colored, pebble-leather trench coat.


Peter Som opened with a boxy knit white T-shirt paired with refined skinny trousers in a rose print rooted in a shade of tangerine. The same print was on the bottom half of a drop-waist shift dress that featured a blue floral top.

In his notes, he called it his "bicolor super-rose dress."

"I think he's a master with the fabrics," said Sasha Iglehart, deputy fashion director at Glamour. "I love to see the mixes he comes up with. It's one of my favorite first shows of Fashion Week. It gives me something to hang my hat on to start dissecting trends."

Som also showed a zebra-print, pinup worthy bikini, a cobalt feather dress with black appliques and yellow, shimmery feather skirt worn with a striped featherweight T.

A strapless fuchsia gown wrapped from the bustline and with a high slit was a reminder that well-done simplicity can be a show-stopper.


Alexander Wang was full of sporty details. There were technical fabrics, oversized pockets, exposed zippers, mesh and sharp laser-cut details. He also included lots of layers that mixed many textures, but nothing seemed too heavy for the season.

He included miniskirts and walking shorts, cargo vests and track jackets.

"We've already seen Alex's influence on the runways in New York and we're only three days in," said Kristina O'Neill, Harper's Bazaar executive editor. "There are anoraks, pops of neon and parachute fabrics everywhere. It was great to see him take his sporty references to the next level."

She noted references to track and field, auto racing, BMX and football jerseys. Some models carried a golf-bag "weekender" over their shoulder.

Wang's youthful customers come to him for cutting-edge casual. As a designer, he's increasingly a bellwether for what's to come. His runway attracts all the top editors, retailers and stylists - and celebrities, including Alicia Keys, Courtney Love and Lea Michele this season. Linda Evangelista was in the front row.


The intersection of sportswear and elegance happens on the Lauren runway. It gives him a place on the American fashion scene like no one else.

There was a feminine hint of ruffle in a floral print, optic white menswear suits, luxe liquid-like fabrics and Deco beading were all part of Lauren's reimagining of 1920s style.

Lauren showed great skill in balancing simple shapes - the hardest thing to do well - with glamorous details: an ostrich feather scarf here or beaded bag there.

The ivory skirt suit with a hammered-satin tank top, accessorized with an embroidered linen clutch bag and ivory sandal is a lot harder to pull off than something dripping with decoration.

"He's so renowned for desirable, memorable and modern clothes," said Glenda Bailey, editor in chief of Harper's Bazaar.

Virginia Smith, fashion market director at Vogue, added: "It's sort of Ralph Lauren's world and we're living in it."

She really liked the gowns - the knockout floral lame and the off-the-shoulder goddess style - among them. "They were a tour de force."

Oscar de la Renta

The wildly frizzed hair that flew back as the models walked suggested 1970s; the three billowing ball gowns under lace tops that opened the show, 1980s (the good part). But 60-some exits later, a fair conclusion was that Oscar de la Renta's finest hour might be right now.

Never a champion of restraint, for spring de la Renta offered a joy fest that was as beautiful and exuberant as it was diverse.

Various parts will appeal to different types of women - proper ladies, debutantes, sex pots, even girls with a Bohemian streak. In an era dominated by hyper-focused shows, de la Renta's belief in presenting a full range of round-the-clock clothes unencumbered by such unifying irritations as a signature print or overarching theme felt fresh, even though he's been doing it for years. What was consistent: the connoisseurship of thought and execution; the signature flamboyance: the delight with which the clothes were created and worn (the girls looked happy!).

The wealth of embellishments was lavish: airy organza appliques to sassy allover tassels and major sequin encrustations. These ebbed and flowed by day and into the night, when de la Renta sent out an array of stunners, from serene to sizzling.


Vera Wang covered all the bases - some things for the red carpet, some athletic-inspired silhouettes and some high-concept fashion.

Wang's show pretty much mimicked her front row: Beyonce and Kim Kardashian. Serena Williams. And, yes, Madeleine Albright.

"Vera believed in empowering women," said Albright, the first woman to become a US Secretary of State. "When women are politically and economically powerful ... there is more stability."

Wang opened with featherweight layers of white, including a sleeveless peplum coat with an oversized hood worn over a slip dress. She then moved into more color than usual: hot pink, purple and mint green, all of which have emerged as top shades for spring.

Cindy Leive, editor in chief of Glamour, found herself drawn to Wang's psychedelic-print skinny pants, textured fabrics and tough shoes "you've come to expect from Vera."

Overall, though, Leive said next season seemed a bit of a departure for Wang, who despite her background in bridal gowns, has favored darker, somber looks.

Carolina Herrera

Carloina Herrera, who seems to never have a wrinkle in her skirt, not a hair out of place, has a playful side, too.

A shirtdress got oversized pockets and a delicate red cocktail dress was made of seersucker silk.

It's not Herrera's way to make things too fussy. A black-and-blue gown was as soft and pretty as you'd expect from the designer, even though it was covered in sharp-edge embroidery.

Making things look simple can be one of the hardest things to do, she said.


Tory Burch did more than move to a bigger space and add bench seats.

Judging by the turnout for her first runway show, she confirmed her status as a solid player instead of an up-and-comer.

Burch's collection was inspired by the seaside French resort of Deauville in the 1920s.

Backstage, as she checked on models with hair pulled into ponytails, Burch said she was drawn to that locale and period because it was the right mix of polished and sporty.

She opened with a silk dress that had cascading pleats in front, and a red-and-pink striped tie-neck blouse paired with a dot-print skirt.

There was a little bit of everything, from a striped swim skirt to a billowy blush-colored gown, and that's surely the appeal of Burch's label. It's not breaking new ground, but her fans can count on it to hit the trends - with an uptown interpretation - and make them wearable.

Marc Jacobs

Marc Jacobs closed the curtain on New York Fashion Week with a dance hall theme that confirmed some trends for spring and created new ones with a mix of filmy fringe, Western-style shapes and drop-waist dresses.

With a line of models draped over chairs, Jacobs mined different eras to shape the new look for next season.

The 1920s, 1960s and what might pass for blase in Year 2050 were represented in shades of baby blue, grass green, wine red and luminescent white. Some models wore clear ankle boots and others walked in modern-esque turbans. There were beads, athletic influences and tons of tiered skirts.

Stephanie Solomon, vice president for fashion direction at Bloomingdale's, saw Paris in the Jazz Age - fast-forwarded to today. "It was the speakeasy for the summer of 2011," she said, "but when you looked at the innovative fabrics and how he styled it, it was very, very modern."

Jacobs, the industry darling, usually shows earlier during the New York previews, before editors, retailers and stylists flee for Europe.

However, he changed his slot this go-around to allow more time for deliveries slowed by Hurricane Irene. Joe Zee, Elle's creative director, could get used to this. "To end the week like this is how it should be. It's like he's the director of this great production," he said. "I love that it's not a literal interpretation of any one thing. It's a potpourri that works."


Diane von Furstenberg's spring collection, dubbed "Beginnings," seemed more about renewal.

The looks were fresh and breezy, but not overly frilly or frivolous.

"The light appears and changes everything," she said in notes for guests that included Oscar de la Renta and Valentino.

Von Furstenberg was faced with a challenge from the start. As president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, she helps set the international calendar of style previews. New York's spring shows are always the second week of September, therefore always crossing September 11.

This year, on the milestone 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks, it fell on the day of von Furstenberg's usual time slot.

She couldn't really change it, nor did she want to, she said in an interview earlier this week, but she had to acknowledge it, too. She found the appropriate balance by handing out American flags to the front row as she took her bow - hand in hand with creative director Yvan Mispelaere.

Victoria Beckham

Victoria Beckham's crisp, clean and sophisticated collection showed off her skills as a dressmaker.

Beckham added several outerwear pieces to the repertoire - including hooded satin jackets - but she mostly stepped back from the looser silhouette that she experimented with last season.

Even the dresses with pleated skirts were built with tight bodices.

Beckham has made her hallmark out of well-cut geometric clothes, and it's OK for her to stick with it. It's the style that suits her best, anyway, as she showed off her post-baby figure in a zip-back shift while she took it all in from the front row.

In recent seasons, Beckham narrated from a perch next to the runway in an intimate townhouse venue. However, this time she was quiet in the library's long, narrow Astor Hall.


The 1940s' Hollywood look met the 1970s' American in Paris on Anna Sui's runway.

That meant printed turbans on almost every model's head, a la Greta Garbo, tons of novelty-print dresses and several lingerie-like looks.

Sui's catwalk always has top-tier models. Karen Elson opened the show in a chiffon dress, patchwork sweater dress and black-and-white marabou jacket, and she closed it in a sequin-top, paisley-leaf gown.

Jessica Stam, with legs decorated with butterflies (Sui's signature), wore a floral kaftan and a rose-print chiffon romper, and Caroline Trentini wore a butterfly-and-hydrangea-print jumpsuit.

Sui was into novelty prints this season, also offering several looks with stars and heart motifs.

There's always a vintage vibe on Sui's catwalk, yet the designer caters to a mostly younger crowd. They might not get the retro references with the lace that trims delicate blouses and the slinky embroidered tulle dress worn like a robe over tap pants, but they'll look good in them.


It was an unusually feminine display for Francisco Costa.

Dresses had sheer trim on the bustline, or in some cases a sheer top. Hemlines were just a touch asymmetrical.

In a switch from other designer collections previewed over eight days, these were longer in the front and shorter in the back. Fluted and pleated skirts evoked a 1940s feel, and some of the long silk and jacquard coats were worn like robes, adding to the lingerie look. Imagine the muse of a wartime spy, dashing out in the dark.

"It's a very exciting season because, you know, I think what I wanted to convey with the collection it was really feminine clothes that was very relevant for today ... no tricks just real quality in the making and interesting cuts," said Costa backstage.

The collection also included wide-leg pants, worn with a shawl-collared vest, and culottes.


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