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Easy color signals sunny Fashion Week theme

Mellow, beachy colors of ocean blue, marigold yellow and hibiscus pink dominated the runways Monday at New York Fashion Week.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Mellow, beachy colors of ocean blue, marigold yellow and hibiscus pink dominated the runways Monday at New York Fashion Week.

You were expecting black?

Designers tried to lighten a dour national mood for their spring collections with a sunny evolution of the popular fall colors of eggplant, mustard and midnight blue. For spring, they're relying on lighter lilac, marigold and teal.

Carolina Herrera added a dash of persimmon (reddish orange) mixed with graphic black and white, pairing a soft, ethereal look with something more crisp.

"When the economy is not that good, we need to achieve, to do something even more special," Herrera told The Associated Press. "Women who buy your clothes have to be attracted with something so special that they need to have it."

When the "green" movement came into vogue, the color came along with it. Perhaps the presence of flowing, ocean blue signals the next front in that movement.

Monday's breezy collections were a respite from a celebrity-packed, frenzied weekend, but more excitement was to come. Marc Jacobs was to present his bellwether collection late Monday, part of eight days of New York Fashion Week shows that run through Friday.

Carolina Herrera
At Carolina Herrera, the air and the runway were filled with feelings of civility, sophistication and luxury.

The brand favored by A-lister Renee Zellweger, who was in the audience, consistently plays the chic, well-heeled woman who has little interest in trends. Yet the lovely dresses with organza overlays or delicate ruffles fully played into the casual elegance that has been a strong theme during the first half of new season's style previews.

The palette of hibiscus pink, marigold yellow, teal blue and persimmon mixed with graphic black and white also falls in line with what's been popular with other designers in a collection that alternated between crisp simplicity and ethereal femininity.

"The color and feminine details were very much her style," observed InStyle fashion director Cindy Weber Cleary. "In a season that could turn out tricky, her feminine sensibility looked fresh and beautiful."

However, the handful of all-over beaded gowns seemed a little out of step with what's happening in the rest of the world and, more specifically, an industry focused on a tight economy.

Peter SomPeter Som's spring runway was a closet full of clothes for the young and beautiful set. The collection was an even mix of tropical colors and neutral earth tones, resortwear and cocktail dresses.

Som mixed textures — an organza shirt with tweed skirt, and a shiny linen taffeta dress — which gave the overall impression of chic clothes without stuffiness. Corset-style tops with fuller, flirty bottoms also provided some playfulness.

In an interview ahead of the show, Som described the look as his signature of "quirkily romantic dressing and relaxed elegance" — and moving it to the desert. Many of the best looks, however, must have come from Som's oasis: beautiful hues of ocean blue, including lagoon, aqua and azure.

On the more casual side were rompers, which are a bona fide trend for the season, that Som put into wearable proportions with slim-cut tops and fuller but not voluminous shorts.

Tracy ReeseTracy Reese's garden blossomed early. The best outfits of her spring collection were done in florals, especially a pale oleander-rose print used for a one-shoulder slip dress covered with appliqued flowers that served as the runway finale.

Other outstanding looks presented Sunday to an audience that included Sanaa Lathan and Brandy were a chrysanthemum lantern skirt with a soft drape matched with a nectarine-colored knit T-shirt with ruffled cap sleeves and strapless garden-print top with a double peplum that was worn with green eyelet trousers.

Furthering the good girl-bad girl theme that has been popular in the early going of Fashion Week, Reese offered an ideal leather-and-lace ensemble: a taupe-colored buttery leather jacket with appliques and a lace tiered skirt.

Lela RoseLela Rose borrowed draping techniques from the headdresses of the African Mende tribe for dresses that blurred the line between funky global styles and cocktail attire for uptown girls.

One of the most interesting things to emerge from her runway show Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week was a print Rose called "heat map" and looked like a satellite photo on Google Maps. It was an attractive navy and red print but also seemed like a social commentary about the world getting smaller.

Dip-dyed fabrics and ikat prints added to an exotic feel, but there also were several of the one-shoulder and twisted-fabric dresses that fit right into the trends of the other runways at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.