A touch of nerves over a terrorist alert permeated Day 2 of Fashion Week as the industry ran to and fro Friday through stepped-up security on road and rail.
"It's kind of scary," Christian Siriano said as he madly put the finishing touches on his Saturday show. "We're just kind of pumping through it."
National Guard troops and transit police with assault rifles watched crowds at Penn Station and stopped vehicles at the 59th Street bridge in Manhattan after counterterrorism officials received a tip of a possible al-Qaida car bombing in New York City or Washington around the Sept. 11 anniversary Sunday.
"We're taking the threat seriously and are in constant contact with city and police officials," said Zach Eichman, a spokesman for IMG, which runs the eight-day series of spring previews at Lincoln Center.
A London student, 20-year-old Jessica Anuna, who also edits an online fashion magazine, is staying in a Times Square hotel during her first turn at Fashion Week.
"I was a bit worried to be honest, but I'm confident that New York has it under control," she said after attending shows for Project Runway contestants and the Luca Luca brand.
"I'm not doing anything different really, just being more aware of my surroundings, more alert," Anuna added. "It's not really at the forefront of my mind."
Ashley Tisdale, on the front row at Luca Luca and Rebecca Taylor, was also mindful. "I think we're always on alert, but I feel safe," she said.
Meanwhile, optimism prevailed on the runways for next season's style on the second day of shows for editors, retailers and stylists. After the New York catwalks close down, shows shift to London, then Milan and Paris.
Jason Wu debuted a collection fit for modern sophisticates who aren't fussy or stuffy. Inspired by pop art, he went with "electrified embroideries" that mixed sequins, beads and pearls, and flashes of bright yellow, pink and blue. But he didn't stray from his classic, ladylike look so fitting for first lady Michelle Obama's inaugural gown.
Peter Som's favorite tropical colors, clean shapes, rich textures and occasional quirky prints were everywhere on his runway. For next season, he also loves flowers and feathers.
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.
The extra fabric fared much better on the finale look that paired a white lace shirt with a long black gazar skirt that was trailed by a long train.
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.
Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen got their coveted quiet in an almost all cream collection when they opted out of New York Fashion Week chaos and showed the spring collection for The Row in a sparse space in a no-man's-land neighborhood on Manhattan's West Side.
There were just a few wooden benches for guests, who numbered in the dozens instead of the hundreds at the main fashion hub of the Lincoln Center tents.
The designers didn't appear on the runway, choosing to let the clothes speak for themselves. (One could actually hear each step the models took in their flat white sandals.)
The first look put a delicate drawstring-waist tunic over long, fluid pants, a chic combination for a woman who has places to wear light, flowing clothes. It set the tone for a series of delicate but not overly frilly or feminine outfits that moved from more daytime pants of varying lengths to embellished cocktail dresses, including a beaded-top kimono.
There was an easy elegance here, although the bathrobe-style jacket over pajama pants seemed too far to that extreme.
The Olsens, who were nominated earlier this year for the Council of Fashion Designers of America award for emerging talent, have shown they're serious about fashion and stepped up their game.
RAG & BONE
Marcus Wainwright and David Neville must know some sophisticated surfers.
The designers turned out a spring collection that used a stylish hand to rework the sporty shapes and bright colors one expects to see at the beach to make them urban appropriate.
They used the emerging bright color palette from this round of previews and embraced wearable layers, including a mesh top with a knit biker jacket and a rough-edge tweed blanket jacket worn with a mesh blouse.
The collection evolved as the designers — maybe haphazardly — moved back and forth from their original inspiration to the clean lines of modern architecture. And, oh yeah, they tossed in a little retro parachute fabric, too.
They wanted it to be about more than the expected neoprene, although '70s surfers served as an inspiration, Wainwright said. Nothing like a tailored navy crepe jacket paired with a turquoise poncho and black bandeau bikini top.
Of course that's the way the runway is styled, and even there the outfits did all come together in a way that suits the label's fashion-forward customer. The key pieces — those ponchos, crochet tops, neon bikinis, leather hooded sweatshirts, gaucho pants and asymmetrical skirts — could stand on their own in the closets of the designers' fans.
If Bryce Black wins this season of "Project Runway," look for his new T-shirt: "Klum of Doom."
Yet there was one thing even more frightening than judge Heidi Klum, he said, and that's appearing in public.
Black and the other eight remaining contestants for the ninth season got the chance to explain their looks from the runway at the Lincoln Center tents. Black's clothes included a number of odd-looking military-style jackets, some in pastels, and a lot of trousers with large, exaggerated seams.
Who's on track to win? Hard to tell, but the crowd seemed to like the bright, breezy style of Anya Ayoung Chee. Her designs included a long, silky colorful dress with a metallic halter strap.
Representing the over-50 set was Bert Keeter, 57, who seemed a bit surprised to be there. He favored simple designs in white, tan and black.
Azrouel showed off his tailoring skills in a belted white trench to a sexy, open-back crepe dress.
"This woman is strong. She knows what she wants — and she knows how to wear clothes well," Azrouel said in a pre-show interview.
There certainly was no embellishment to hide behind: The opening look was a light tan-colored, button-down dress with side slits and a white, collarless jacket.
Other noteworthy outfits included an all-white matte satin dress with a plunging V halter neck, open back and drawstring waist, and slim tuxedo-style pantsuit with an optic white grosgrain ribbon on the lapel.
The sex appeal came from sheer fabrics and unexpected slits that showed a lot of leg as models turned the corner of the runway, but lengths were long and nothing too tight.
"Skin is important to show, but at the same time, I don't think a woman has to show her skin to be provocative. She has to show her personality," Azrouel said. "I like the idea of cover and layer — and doing what's unexpected."
Miller's collection seemed aimed at a downtown, 20-something woman, with many references to street chic, from bicycle clothing to messenger bags to bomber jackets. Above all, there was color — bold bursts of it.
"It's no longer black with a little color," she said. "It's color, with a little black."
Asked her influences, she mentioned "the whole bicycle thing — I got really interested in vintage bicycle clothing. And skateboarding, and Formula One."
Yet there was some delicacy, too, with one of the biggest hits a gray and peach beaded dress with graceful cutouts in back.
A super-bright patchwork print was one visual theme — it appeared first on leggings, then on a silk print blouse — circa 1980, the design notes specified — then on a silk skirt with stripes, and then, most bracingly, on an entire, eye-popping jumpsuit, circa 1985.
One would have to be young, thin and gorgeous to pull that one off — even more so, perhaps, to pull off two sheer applique tanks that proudly displayed the wearer's breasts.
Models wore multicolored fishskin shoes, sandals and boots.
AP National Writer Jocelyn Noveck and Associated Press Writer Leanne Italie in New York contributed to this report.
AP Fashion Writer Samantha Critchell tweets from the AP Fashion Twitter account: http://twitter.com/AP_Fashion