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Image: Andreas Melbostad
Bebeto Matthews  /  AP
Fashion from the Spring 2009 Phi collection by designer Andreas Melbostad is modeled during Fashion Week. The harem pants look was reportedly first worn by a very chic French editor.
updated 9/11/2008 6:59:01 PM ET 2008-09-11T22:59:01

How does a seemingly unusual trend — to wit, harem pants — end up on almost every runway at New York Fashion Week?

The spring previews, entering the home stretch on Thursday with runway shows from Calvin Klein and Vera Wang, brought together more than 100 designers. But the fashion world is a small one, after all.

For harem pants, the seed may lie across the Atlantic, where the look was reportedly worn by a very chic French editor. Fashion designers visit the same cities, see the same people, stay in the same hotels and see the same art exhibits.

"Fashion designers see someone like her and think they look cool," says Amy Astley, editor in chief of Teen Vogue. "Trends by their very nature aren't for everyone, but everyone likes to try them."

The trouble is, it'll be hard for anyone who is not a tall, slim French editor to pull off such draped, billowy pants. But that didn't stop anyone from Phi, showing Thursday, to Proenza Schouler, Miss Sixty, Betsy Johnson, Nicole Miller and Tahari from sending them down the runway. New York Fashion Week wraps up Friday.

Calvin Klein
Architectural shapes, great coats and a lot of white: In the words of designer Francisco Costa, those are key elements of a classic Calvin Klein collection. Costa's spring collection was heavy on each.

This was the brand's 40th anniversary, drawing a crowd that included Tyra Banks and Eva Mendes, and the collection was more conceptual than Costa's previous work for the label.

Many silhouettes had the crisp, folded lines of origami, producing drama that surely would make great photographs. But some in the audience were left wondering how those looks would apply to the street — or even if one could sit down in a dress with accordianlike bellows down the front and back.

There was no question about the chic suits, though. Slim pantsuits and one with a pencil skirt were spare and sexy, boasting completely clean lines save a shiny, silver half-moon closure at the tops of the jackets. The dresses, mostly in white mixed with some hues of blue, had bold, broad shoulders that exuded power, and the folds on some of the sleeves created the optical illusion of a separate jacket.

Vera Wang
Vera Wang's runway gleamed on Thursday, with mirrored-tile embellishment on stunning dresses and tops, as well as chunky beaded motorcycle belts and bib necklaces.

The spring collection mirrored some of the trends already spotted at New York Fashion Week — easy silhouettes and a sultry use of sheer fabrics, among them — but Wang also had a billowy vibe all her own.

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A fashion-forward Hollywood star should skip the glamour-girl strapless gown at the upcoming Emmy Awards and go for one of Wang's chic slim long dress made of two layers of charcoal and orange organza. Add the aquamarine-crystal belt and you've got a guaranteed spot on the best-dressed list.

Wang also presented what could be the black dress of the season — a T-shirt silhouette in silk and cotton that could be dressed up, dressed down or worn effortlessly on its own.

Cynthia Rowley
Against the backrop of a giant clock, Cynthia Rowley presented clean geometric shapes and patterns.

The clothes and accessories were sporty and sexy, including tank dresses with color blocking, dresses with one sleeve and skirts, jackets with a shape cut out of the back.

The clock started when the first model walked out on the catwalk.

"The clock is a comment on the increase in the number of collections a designer creates each year, and the race to turn out those collections quickly and to produce new things," Rowley said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.

Rebecca Taylor
Rebecca Taylor taveled back to the bohemian 1970s for her spring collection, sending floaty frocks and separates with bell sleeves, tiny ball trims and billowy silhouettes down the runway .

Models, with long flowing hair pulled off the face by headbands, slouched along in wooden-heeled perforated peeptoe booties. Some carried tan bags with long fringe, another nod to San Francisco's flower children.

The carefree bohemian feel marked a slight departure for Taylor, who specializes in pretty, girly frocks. This season, the Taylor girl isn't too high maintenance — she'll tuck in her delicate embroidered blouse but leave it out and trailing over the back of a pale lavender button-front mini.

J. Mendel
Stylists were gown-shopping for celebrity clients at Thursday's presentation by J. Mendel — and they found several candidates for the red carpet at the upcoming Emmy Awards.

Stylists Mary Alice Stephenson and Rachel Zoe joked that they were fighting over an electric blue silk chiffon gown with a crystal chain. Stephenson also envisioned an actress in a one-shoulder, cream-colored draped gown with a delicate gold-bead belt and a lace inset on the back.

"We've seen a lot of interesting clothes and a lot of short clothes this Fashion Week," Stephenson said. "But we have not seen a lot of glamorous red-carpet dresses — until now."

Reem Acra
Never one to skimp on the extravagance, Lebanese-American eveningwear designer Reem Acra piled on the silks and jewels for a spring collection made for a Mediterranean princess.

She delivered a collection of bright evening wear and cocktail-ready separates to a packed house that included soap star Leven Ramblin, actress Sanaa Lathan, Danity Kane singer Aubrey O'Day and singer Ashanti.

Acra offered Moroccan-inspired pieces in a rainbow of saturated jewel tones: a tunic pantsuit in a shocking pink was perfect for Barbie on a Middle Eastern holiday. Caftans in luxe jacquards, silks and chiffon went by in tans, golds and cobalt, all embroidered or jeweled with blinding details.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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