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Wearable clothes take stage at Fashion Week

Focus for fall includes collections that work both on and off the runway
/ Source: The Associated Press

Working women rejoice: You’ll actually have stylish-yet-appropriate clothes to wear next fall. Even better, there also will be clothes for you to wear to dinner, parties and play dates — with or without the kids.

The collections previewed on the runways in the opening days of New York Fashion Week were mostly wearable. But there were some misses, too, especially the short bubble skirts and knickers that have graced more than one catwalk.

Designer shows continue through Friday with Chanel and Fendi designer Karl Lagerfeld making his runway debut in New York with his new Karl Lagerfeld/Lagerfeld Collection as the finale.

Carolina Herrera: Shirtdresses return to the wardrobe — even as gowns. Herrera turned bright red silk into a basketweave shirtgown, jazzing it up to be black-tie worthy with a beaded belt.

She also sent several suits down the runway Monday morning. The skirt suits, in a rust plaid, were fitted and to the knee, the pants had wide cuffed legs.

An emerging trend for fur is shearing it so close that it looks like soft velvet. Herrera used that technique for the sleeves on a black and brown wool dress that was otherwise simple — and very sophisticated.

Herrera matched coats with cocktail dresses to create a complete outfit, and the chocolate broadtail coat with a turquoise swirl print lining with a pleated strapless dress in the same fabric was a standout.

Diane von Furstenberg: Von Furstenberg on Sunday brought back the ’80s power suit, down to the slim pencil skirts with high waists, puffy sleeves and oversized lumberjack-check and houndstooth prints. But von Furstenberg modernized the look by slimming the silhouette and adding feminine details, such as a peplum on a jacket or using a rosebud-print chiffon fabric for a blouse.

The newest incarnation of her wrap dress, which she first put on the runway in 1975, had a fuller skirt and was made in brushed cotton and suede instead of the classic jersey.

A black belted shirtdress with vertical pleats was one of those chic outfits that easily go from day to night.

Badgley Mischka: It was a subtle shift, but to mark their return to Fashion Week after sitting out a few seasons, eveningwear designers Mark Badgley and James Mischka decided to court the funkier Grammy crowd instead of the more staid Oscar-goers.

Several styles featured accordian-style vertical pleats. The best were a bright yellow strapless cocktail dress with a bow under the bust, and a printed silk satin and chiffon gown in plum, black and white.

The duo also offered a cool daytime look — at least a daytime look for celebrities: sheared mink skirts with unsheared mink hemlines.

However, a shapeless red dress with a separate piece of fabric in the back that stretched from the neck to the mid-thigh hem looked a bit like a boat’s sail — and it was a dud.

The show closed with an unexpected black satin trench coat with a skull made out of fancy beads on the back.

Luella Bartley: Londoner Bartley offered something for the woman who likes the look of both country crooners and punk rocker, but still dresses up in a dress with a pearl collar and bow around her waist for tea with her grandmother.

Shrunken jackets, one in textured leather with studs and another decorated with pearls, looked hip with tailored trousers or super skinny jeans. A light pink patent leather trenchcoat was a lighthearted version of a practical item.

But even the young customer who likes Bartley’s playful style probably would think twice before putting on the puffy micro-miniskirts that looked like Cinderella ballgowns after the evil stepsisters took their scissors to them.

Tuleh: Tuleh’s socialite customer will have to go even lighter on their low-fat fare to get into Bryan Bradley’s new long, skinny skirts, but it’s all in the name of a super-polished look.

Most of the skirts had high waists and hit below the knee, and were worn with booties with wooden, stacked heels.

Bradley also played with proportion, offering a loose satin blouson top with a high neck in the front and a big cutout in the back, and a puff-sleeve short fur jacket. A top with sleeves made of cascading feathers didn’t work, though.

DKNY: Donna Karan’s DKNY line is aimed at her younger customers and has more of New York’s street style than her signature collection. But with this fall’s offerings, anyone could wear the outfits.

Easy, chic dresses had loose tops and skirts with gathered high waists to show off the best parts of a woman’s shape. A wine-colored mohair sweater coat was the kind of comfortable cocoon that can be worn on a Sunday stroll — and into a nice restaurant if you get hungry along the way.

There were some schoolgirl-inspired looks, too, but they had a sophisticated edge that kept them from being cartoonish. Satin mini bubble skirts, paired with georgette T-shirts and cropped cardigan sweaters, looked cute on the runway, but the tissue silk skirts that hit just below the knee would be much easier to wear.

Tracy Reese: Reese’s signature style is “pretty” and for fall she did it again. However, she didn’t go overly girlie, except for a few too many bows on dresses that didn’t need them.

The collection was cohesive — but not cluttered — as Reese debuted her accessories collection.

Her wide patent leather belts with gold hardware were worn high on the waist over a black V-shaped vest and cream-colored shirt with oversized sleeves, and again with a black tribal beaded blouse and flowing skirt. Leather booties with thick heels that tied at the top looked clunky with some of the dresses, though.

For dressing up, a blue floral sequined shift glimmered like an ocean and a berry-colored long tiered dress had a tank neckline alternately decorated by ethnic brown beads and glamorous purple crystals.