The message after eight days of fall previews at New York Fashion Week is that the consumer has choices. There isn't a must-have look or a white-hot label that everyone is talking about.
One editor wants tuxedo pants from Proenza Schouler, another the luxe embroidered coats from Oscar de la Renta. A stylist has her eye on the bias dresses at Sophie Theallet, and Michael Kors has something for everyone.
"A lot of lines have their own identity and personality this season, which is good for consumers," said Adam Glassman, creative director for O, The Oprah Magazine.
Options to consider? Rachel Roy's denim trenches, Marc Jacobs' pencil skirts and the wearable luxury offered by Donna Karan, he said.
Amanda Brooks, fashion director for Barneys New York, puts a parka coat at the top of her shopping list. "So far, for me, it's been about sporty outerwear, done in a more luxurious way. It's about fur and details — a parka with a more sophisticated shape."
Burgundy was big on almost every runway, along with autumnal navy, rust and camel — all good colors for women of different ages and skin tones. Glassman warns, though, that cobalt blue can be tricky.
Fringe is back but with fresh takes from Diane Von Furstenberg in suede and Doo.ri in knit.
If keeping warm remains your priority, the item of the season is a parka — definitely about fur, quilting and cutaways for fall.
What's going on under the parka is much more about separates. Even Rodarte took them on in a way that benefits shoppers looking to reuse them in new ways.
The conclusion Thursday of New York Fashion Week is followed by previews in London, Paris and Milan, Italy.
Designers Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough used a pulsating makeshift runway in a warehouse to debut a line as homespun as it was urban.
There were masterful macrame skirts and dresses pieced together with exposed stitching, inspired by the American Southwest.
Coats were exquisite. Long dresses with colorful panne-velvet tops and black bottoms work for day, night — and, for a front-row guest like Liv Tyler — the red carpet.
"At the end of the show, what I was thinking about was that they always redefine for me what's right for evening. I was about to go to a dinner and I'm thinking what I'm wearing is all wrong," said Vogue senior market director Meredith Melling Burke. "All I wanted to be wearing was a Navajo pant and tuxedo jacket."
Proenza Schouler has the potential to be a game-changer in fashion, Burke said. "I think there's a whole youth generation that really listens to these guys. My generation looks at Marc Jacobs, but this generation gets their ideas from Proenza Schouler, and they really trust them because they lead the life."
Lauren visited the fineries of Asian fashion in bright-dragon embroideries, silks and satins, and the perfect fit of a slim silhouette.
This wasn't a journey to bustling, contemporary China. It was regal and elegant with slinky velvet gowns and colorful jackets.
"I have always loved the glamour and sophistication of the 1930's and its Art Deco and Chinoiserie influences. I see it as relevant and modern now," Lauren said after the show.
The tailored menswear suits that have been all over were here, too, but they're not a trend for Lauren. They are a signature. He alternately offered skinny- and wide-leg trousers to go with shawl-collared jackets, and even tuxedo jodhpurs with a wing-collared shirt and wool jacket.
There were many red-carpet evening gowns, which is not always his norm. A black-velvet column gown with a beaded jade-and-silver halter neckline, and the finale look, silver high-neck halter gown paired with a silver beaded hood, were among the most special.
He put the icing on New York Fashion Week.
Mizrahi sent poodles tinted pink, yellow and blue down his runway, along with tiered cakes to match his line of dresses in the same shades. Models wore poodle-esque black poofs on the top of their heads.
Large oversized bows draped over shoulders or across the backs of the line. Poodles popped up as pins at the waist.
Mizrahi, in a black poodle jacket, ran down the catwalk with one of the pooches at the end.
Broad-shouldered fashionistas, rejoice: There are runway fashions for you, too.
Krakoff showed jackets and coats aplenty with extra roomy shoulders — a boxy shearling jacket, for example, over a silk dress, provided a contrast of heavy and light. Or a jacket in two shades of gray — fancier, but still with very loose, broad shoulders — falling easily over a matching wrap dress, its slit adding a touch of sexiness.
Krakoff, the creative director of Coach, naturally likes leather. With fashion tastemaker Anna Wintour, editor of Vogue, looking on in her trademark dark glasses, Krakoff presented lots of thin "paper leather" — in shirts, quilted jackets, a dress. He also likes gray, particularly a light gray that, combined with the boxy shapes, gave the collection a futuristic feel.
Another key theme: the wrap, in dresses and skirts. For Krakoff, the wrap is tied lower down for a flattering long-waisted effect.
Mohapatra captured a smoldering, sophisticated look, offering razor-sharp silhouettes with rich textures and architectural lines.
He cut out a shoulder here, an exaggerated slit there. He played the sheerness of chiffon off the dense luxury of fur and embroidery.
"These are my sinister, glamorous clothes," Mohapatra said.
The collection's journey started with Arthur Miller's "The Crucible," which led Mohapatra to an exploration of extremes — darkness and light, good and evil — but all pure, the designer explained. "It was important to look at being true to yourself."
The menswear-inspired collection was all woman.
A man just wouldn't look right in that Lurex-stripe tux top of a mink sweatshirt with leather trim — even worn as a model did on the catwalk with a slim, wool "boy pant."
The collection "celebrates the strength and power of artistic femininity and the discovery of seductive sensuality," Azrouel explained in his notes.
Azrouel tapped into the trend of using classic eveningwear and dressy details — the tuxedo, opera coats, feathers and beading — and incorporating them into daywear for a dressy but unfussy look.
The new collection for his Love label layered coat upon coat, skirt over trousers.
The key catwalk piece was a wrap-style coat, often worn with menswear-inspired outerwear on top and a flowy, feminine maxi skirt underneath. The overall shape of things was slouchy, especially oversized suit-style pants.
The dominant neutral palette was subtle, with something smoky and sexy to all those grays and taupes.
Michelle Smith's collection was a mix of jewel tones with bright guava and fuchsia in mohair, silk and cashmere corduroy.
She paired a guava mohair coat with a raspberry cashmere cardigan, silk herringbone blouse and leather satchel. Some looks had fluffy black or beige vests made of Mongolian lamb.
Silk dresses were designed with large long ruffles. A wool navy culottes skirt had thin, schoolgirl pleats, and Smith made a black blouse of ruffled Chantilly lace.
Her feminine luxury attracted Kristin Chenoweth and "The View" co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck to the front row.
"The prints are wild without being too out there," Hasselbeck said. "For a mom it's nice to be able to have some fun with my clothing and still be able to function in it."
Models wore fur collars that fluffed to their ears. Fox fur ran down the fronts of skirts. It was wrapped around the neck of a long sleeve top, then around its front.
Coats were trimmed around the neck, wrists and hem with fox fur and a long brown and blue-gray horizontal striped fox fur vest was belted at the waist.
He found inspiration in '70s-era rock climbers in California, Alpine ski style, colonial explorers, early 20th century female mountaineers and traditional Tibetan costume.
"Project Runway" judge Nina Garcia sat in the front row. She said Cota is known for his tailoring, detailing and feminine sensibility.
"He exemplifies the new generation of designers that are coming up," she said. "It's exciting what's happening in New York because we have a group of young talent that is really emerging."
Associated Press writers Caryn Rousseau and Jocelyn Noveck contributed to this report.
- Proenza Schouler