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Marc Jacobs wows NY crowd with eccentric elegance

AMERICAN designer Marc Jacobs provided a dazzling finale to New York Fashion Week on Thursday with a collection of severe but eccentric elegance that followed cashmere cool from Ralph Lauren and urban eroticism from Calvin Klein.

Jacobs invited film director Sofia Coppola, Blondie frontwoman Deborah Harry and actress Christina Ricci to an intimate show staged to look like a boudoir with a painted couch as a backdrop and hanging ropes.

The designer, considered perhaps the most innovative of his generation, was reportedly inspired by Diana Vreeland, the late fashion editor, who was also an American debutante and who trained once as a ballet dancer.

Models powered down the runway in black gloves to the elbow, A-line skirts in floral or plastic pleats, tweed suits, twinsets, monochrome fur coats while wearing dark lipstick and hair pulled back in top knots.

Earlier in the day, rapper Kanye West sat front row at Ralph Lauren chewing gum in a bomber jacket as the 75-year-old designer crafted his classic American look in sophisticated, elegant browns and grays.

West has been a fixture during Fashion Week, making his New York design debut with a collection for Adidas, while attending shows in the company of wife Kim Kardashian and the couple's 20-month-old daughter.

West looked delighted to be at Ralph Lauren, greeting a star-struck Chirlane McCray, wife of the New York mayor, posing for photographs and getting a picture on his own phone with Lauren and his wife after the show.

Lauren presented a long, refined silhouette accessorized with shearling hats, coats, stoles and cuffs.

There were cashmere turtlenecks, cable-knit skirts and sweaters, feminine touches in a chiffon skirt with feathers and beaded georgette, and cowboy influences in wide-brimmed hats, fringes and tassels.

For evening, Lauren offered tuxedo-inspired trouser suits, tailored to trace the contours of a woman's body, complete with watch-chains and dress shirts, and georgette or tulle-beaded evening gowns.

The designer came out to rapturous applause at the end, kissed his wife and shook West's hand. He told reporters that it was a "very sexy" collection that emphasized "very sharp black silhouettes."

He told AFP that West had asked to come. "I've met him before and I was glad to have him," the designer said.

Former supermodel Christie Brinkley praised Lauren.

"You see comfortable classic pieces but they're put together with such style and flair," she said.

Francisco Costa, the Brazilian-born women's creative director at Calvin Klein, presented an edgy look in leather and patchwork shearling in black, ivory, forest and blush in a SoHo loft.

Costa told AFP that he was inspired by strong women who combine feminism with femininity. "I think there's a great energy in New York, in the whole world -- women are speaking up a little more," he said.

One of his inspirations was a book of Polaroids taken by Italian designer Carlo Mollino on the cusp of the 1960s and 1970s.

"When you think of (French actress Catherine) Deneuve at that time, also, it's that kind of woman. But here she gets blended in with this New York spirit, the Lou Reed cool. She's kind of cool, she's a cool chick. She's sophisticated and beautiful and cool. There's an ease about her."

There were haircalf coats worn over leather sheath dresses and body-hugging metallic knit long-sleeved T-shirt dresses.

In an unusual look for Calvin Klein, handbags with chunky metal chains were worn across the body; and large button detail and a stud-effect were not dissimilar to the rock grunge on show at Alexander Wang.

"It's a lot of confidence, strength," summed up Costa.

The global fashion jet-set will now decamp to Europe for fashion weeks in London, Milan and Paris.


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