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Fashion world marks Sept. 11 as shows go on

The fashion world stood still when the World Trade Centers came down in the middle of New York Fashion Week a decade ago, but the shows went on Sunday with moments of reflection and remembrance from the tents at Lincoln Center to venues within distance of ground zero.
/ Source: The Associated Press

The fashion world stood still when the World Trade Centers came down in the middle of New York Fashion Week a decade ago, but the shows went on Sunday with moments of reflection and remembrance from the tents at Lincoln Center to venues within distance of ground zero.

"On a day like this, we're all American," U2's Bono said after the spring preview downtown for Edun, the African-inspired brand he founded with his wife, Ali Hewson.

In an intimate hall at the New York Public Library's flagship, guests at Victoria Beckham's show twice stopped in their tracks on the way to their seats for moments of silence — one for each tower — as scheduled by the designer.

All Fashion Week events are proceeding as planned through Thursday, in contrast to the jarring halt of the September previews after the terrorist attacks, said Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, Lincoln Center's fashion director.

On the front row at Lela Rose, she described the conflicting mood on the tragedy's anniversary: "Today is a day that is very exciting, but there is also a certain calmness, you know? Everyone can sort of just look at each other today and know exactly what each other is thinking."

Oscar de la Renta said he watched the anniversary unfold on TV in the morning before heading to the tents. "I was in tears. But I say this country is about the rebirth, all over again. It's like the phoenix bird reborn from its ashes."

Linda Fargo, senior vice president of fashion at Bergdorf Goodman, wore a patriotic blue blouse and red trousers on the Beckham front row. "I didn't expect to be so emotional today, but I am."

Designer Tracy Reese had been scheduled for her first New York Fashion Week show on Sept. 11, 2001, and is proud to mark the anniversary at the tents on the same date this year. "At the end of the day, New York is unlike any other city in the world. Everyone worked together to pick ourselves back up."

Several designers said they've made donations to various organizations in memory of the dead, including Derek Lam to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, and Donna Karan to Action America, an initiative to turn Sept. 11 into a day of positive action and volunteerism.

"We remember that day 10 years ago that changed our city forever," Karan said in her show notes. "We remember the courage, the inspiration, the compassion. How we came together, reaffirming our strength to the world. There truly is no place anywhere like our beloved city, New York. Our inspiration."

After eight days of spring previews in New York, shows move to London, then Milan and Paris.


Her 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. On Sunday, however, she was quiet in the library's long, narrow Astor Hall.


The heart and soul of Karan's DKNY brand is New York, and on this anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, she paid tribute to her hometown using one of its most recognizable symbols as backdrop — the yellow taxi.

Models in loose shirtdresses, sheer sundresses, floppy hats and knee-length board shorts faced a bank of photographers with the doors of the Chelsea studio flung open to display a perfectly positioned taxi.

But New York is only a thread in the nation's larger fabric, Karan said in her notes. She offered several cheerful looks in bold red, white and blue floral print. There were red-and-blue striped outfits, too.


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 Sept. 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.


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.


Come spring, it's still collars up — at least if you're wearing Tommy Hilfiger. Just don't be stuffy about it.

Hilfiger built on themes that have emerged from the Lincoln Center tents as trends for next season, including athleticwear inspirations and mod '60s styles.

But he put his own spin on them in a collection called "Pop Prep." It was a little bit crisper with its Americana sportswear silhouettes and bold color combinations. The finale dress, for example, was a V-neck kaftan in chunks of orange, red and navy.

"These are optimistic pieces, travel pieces that go anywhere," Hilfiger said in an interview a few days before the show. "It's easy dressing for preppy adventures. I was inspired by pop art — I love pop art an the work of Warhol, Haring and Basquiat."

Hilfiger's roots, though, are in country-club styles, and instead of jettisoning them in a season that seems to be about ease, he adapted them by putting traditional glen-plaid fabric into a halter-top bathing suit and shrinking the striped rugby shirt into a crop top.


He had young, fun and relaxed in mind for his beach-inspired collection.

Valvo's notes included a poem he wrote for the season — "summer breezes, sea sprays, and salt water taffy" with some "seaside cottages and ballroom dances" thrown in.

For the girl heading to the Hamptons, he included an ebony cap sleeve one-piece and a champagne pearl embroidered tank dress. His signature eyewear gave the models a beach-ready look.

But long dresses took the show, including one in pleated satin with a sun ray and another in pink lemonade silk satin that drew gasps and applause from the crowd.


Strapless and sporty? No problem.

She incorporated the athletic trend already tangible during this round of previews. Never mind that she's known mostly as a source of red-carpet gowns.

There were worthwhile design elements to borrow from activewear, she said, including sporty necklines and aerodynamic striping and slashing. Her runway had a cobalt-blue racing stripe down the middle.

She also tapped into the popular optimistic color palette that editors, stylists and retailers are getting used to seeing for next season. "I used a lot of vibrant yellows, as you can see. A lot of blues," Lhuillier said.


The label founded by U2's Bono and wife Ali Hewson presented a mix of breezy, delicate florals and edgy laser-cut silks studded with rocker metal grommets.

Bright color lit up the runway in a dark, cavernous warehouse, including some hand dying in indigo using a technique from Mali on a flared jacket made of recycled hemp.

There were reds from a deep clay to a light salmon in African-inspired prints, tangerine in a parachute romper and solids in a range of whites, from silvery to bright.

A diamond print was featured on slouch trousers paired with a matching halter. The print was carried over to several other looks, including a silk scarfdress with matching jersey leggings.

Organic white mesh for a jumpsuit had shorts laser cut in a fluttery petal shape. That detailing, along with the round metal trim, were all over the runway in short dresses, loose shorts, halter tops and trousers.

The company, founded in 2005, produces some of its clothes in Africa. With the help of artisan nuns in Kenya known as the "crochet sisters," the line includes their black, hand-knotted skirt and fitted dress trimmed in leather.

Hewson said in an interview before the show that Edun's latest collection is "kind of innocent but tough" as she tries to bring an "ethical" and steady, sustainable manufacturing industry to Africa.


Ronson gave her youthful customer a bit of a history lesson.

She drew references from the Victorian era, including a tan suede jacket with an asymmetrical front and high neck; the 1920s, dropped-waist dresses; and the "restless grunge decade" of the '90s — that's where the denim fit in.

"There is a minimalist pulled back feeling to the collection, a dreamy airy lightness, punched up with vivid hues of molten lava, faded chambray, crisp whites and electric neons," said Ronson in her notes.

"Denim is treated in a new way, we color block, patchwork, bleach bandanna motifs on chambray and use an array of denim hues to create a water-colored plaid print."

She hit some of the season's main themes and successfully tweaked them for her trend-conscious fan. She had the floral halter-neck, button-down top blending tangerine, yellow and black on white, and the cropped crocheted top paired with a maxi skirt.


Associated Press Writers Summer Moore, Nicole Evatt and Leanne Italie in New York contributed to this report.


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