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Spring comes early at Fashion Week

Responding to enthusiasm for seasonless shopping, many designers who presented their spring lines Friday at New York Fashion Week incorporated materials like wool, cashmere and even fur.
/ Source: The Associated Press

It’ll be spring before you know it — and maybe even before the calendar does — if fashion designers have anything to say about it.

Responding to enthusiasm for seasonless shopping, many designers who presented their spring lines Friday at New York Fashion Week incorporated materials like wool, cashmere and even fur.

Liz Claiborne’s spring line will be available in February, said vice president of design Richard Ostell.

“We spring forward with our palette so people can feel they’ll get some mileage out of it,” he said. “But there are no white bottoms until March!”

Friday’s schedule was jam-packed, thanks to a change in schedule at this season’s Fashion Week to accommodate the Rosh Hashanah holiday next week.

As the spring previews are nearing their midpoint, dainty dresses, pleat and pintuck details and color-blocking were emerging as trends. The fabrics ranged from wool to ultra-light tulle, and dresses dominated the runways in a mix of comforting neutrals and striking acid brights.

Tracy ReeseWith the lyrics “simple things, lovely simple things” being sung in the background, Tracy Reese turned out a spring collection Friday that was simple and lovely.

The clothes were easy to wear, and that was the designer’s goal. She wanted to lighten up on the layers that have been integral to fashion for the past few years. “Everything is easier — that’s where my head is at,” she said during an interview earlier this week.

Star Jones, sitting in the front row at the Bryant Park show, was making a shopping list. A strapless dress with a kaleidoscope pattern was marked “wear soon,” Jones said, while the sailor-style, wide-leg trousers merited exclamation points on her notes.

The pants might have had the highest waist so far at New York Fashion Week. All that room was necessary for the 10 buttons decorating the front.

A handful of evening outfits featured palazzo pants, part of the longer, leaner silhouette Reese thinks will become increasingly important. Her dresses, probably the hallmark of her look, had just a smattering of embellishment on their dainty shapes.

Vera WangVera Wang owns the artsy look at New York Fashion Week.

Wang showed a collection Friday inspired by ancient Rome that didn’t fit neatly into any emerging trends.

A sheer brown toga in silk jersey with a back drape, worn over fancy crepe de chine leggings, were an obvious reference to Rome, while a grass-colored gown covered with tiny pleats that opened into pool of silk tulle was a more subtle reference to the era’s famous architecture.

Draping of some sort was evident on almost each outfit — another dark green gown with a blouson front and an unexpected panel of ivory satin in the back was a particularly good example.

Wang did tap into one theme that is likely to be a staple of spring — a silhouette that is loose but not unwieldily. For example, a woman’s shape won’t be lost in all the asymmetrical dresses and tunics because on at least one point, the fabric is tucked in.

But it’s unlikely that most women will appreciate the bulge on the hip of the satin cargo shorts she turned into eveningwear.

Liz ClaiborneThe Liz Claiborne spring collection intends to offer instant gratification to all the shoppers who can’t wait to shed their winter garb.

The first batch of lighter, looser styles will arrive in February in fabrics such as a tropical wool and new “shape memory” yarn that can take cooler temperatures. The yarn is being used mostly on jackets to help keep their shape. You’ll be able to tie that perfect bow on your trenchcoat belt at home and expect it to still be in place in an hour, Ostell said, but a little tug and smoothing out with the hand and the “memory” is forgotten.

There also seemed to be an emphasis on jackets, ranging from a trapeze to a bomber, and on dresses. One longer-length shift, in a yellow and gray print, was based on the pattern on Ostell’s coffee mug. Another had a bit of ruching just below the bustline, mimicking an empire waist but without that pregnant look that often accompanies it.

Ports 1961Ports 1961 took a journey to Africa on Friday morning, with top models Alek Wek and Liya Kebede landing on its runway at the Bryant Park tents as part of New York Fashion Week.

Editors, stylists and retail buyers saw a broad spectrum of looks: some were relaxed and casual, such as a navy and cream Macheo tie-dye dress, while others were fine and refined, especially suits with pencil skirts and jackets adorned with woven gold belts.

Gold was consistent throughout the line as were touches of “tusk,” decorative fabric presumably named for its ivory color. The gold silk charmeuse dress that Wek, a Sudanese native, wore for the finale was almost a kaftan but more elegant. It looked like liquid gold as she walked.

Otherwise the palette was rooted in the colors of dusk and dawn, especially a burnt red. One particularly nice jersey cotton dress had cascading ruffles around a V-neck and an overall loose shape — but there wasn’t too much volume to become fussy.