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Functional fashion

The emphasis during the New York Fashion Week was on wearable, sellable looks on the ramp

  • A Tadashi Shoji ballgown with agold-and-black-beaded lace bodiceImage Credit: AP
  • The BCBG Max Azria collection continued the colourblocking trend and embellishment was sparse.(right) Tadashi Image Credit: AP
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Fashion designers, retailers, editors and stylists settled into their routines for eight days of previews at New York Fashion Week. The luxury market that most of the runway shows speak to has, over the past year, steadily recovered at the retail level, despite the volatile economy. The clothes to hit the catwalk in the early going showed a continued confidence in the colourblocking, tailoring and easy, elongated shapes that have been trickling into stores and will arrive in force come spring.

The brands BCBG Max Azria and Richard Chai Love kept colours basic and used hardly any embellishment, turning out straightforward, wearable clothes. Surely, there are flamboyant moments to come, but fashion is, after all, the marriage of art and commerce. Of course, there's the celebrity element too, and Tadashi Shoji took care of red-carpet looks with his Shanghai-visits-Hollywood gowns.

Dozens of shows are planned at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week tents that serve as the hub, with another 12, including Skaist-Taylor and Tory Burch, presenting their shows elsewhere on the Lincoln Centre campus.

Burch's show, for example, while an invitation-only event, is held in an all-windowed spot, so Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, director of fashion at Lincoln Centre, expects passers-by to get a peek. But big names such as Marc Jacobs, Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein, who all show later, will draw the crowd to off-site places and likely enforce the strict guest list.

Here's a look at some of the shows from the first day.



The collection designed by Max Azria and his wife Luboy continued the colourblocking trend that's already making its way to red carpets and magazine covers for the spring season, but there was also a muting of colours. Neon pink became a muted coral here and purple a mellow merlot. Embellishment was sparse. The emphasis was on geometric shapes, intricate pleats and unexpected mixes of fabrics, including several pieces with patchwork-style pieces of recycled-but-real fur. The Azrias said they were using the palette and textures "to add character".

It seems a continuation of the effort the designers have made in the past few seasons to elevate the brand to a more sophisticated, restrained — and more expensive? — level.



Richard Chai turned menswear into powerful looks for women, with top coats, tweed jackets and pinstripe pants for female customers of his Love brand, and he retooled trousers in his men's clothes to be slimmer and shorter than most guys are used to. Some of the best pieces were stadium and duffel coats, appealing to all customers. The women looked put-together in their mostly grey-and-black blazers and button-down shirts. There were flashes of femininity as Chai also offered some sheer layers and pieces in pretty red floral print.



Tadashi Shoji sent a parade of gowns down the catwalk. Nothing overly complicated or particularly edgy, but glamorous with a hint of sexy.

A flame-red washed velvet gown had a dramatic cowl back filled with black beading, and a ballgown with a gold-and-black-beaded lace bodice had the full Cinderella treatment for its skirt. The green blouson-top gown with mermaid hemline that opened the show was tailor-made for a bombshell.

For more of a delicate look, there was a green lace tiered dress with a handkerchief hem, while the trick of putting sheer black lace over gold fitted linings had a more sultry effect.