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September 30, 2009 > NY Fashion Week designers ask: Who wants a hug?

NY Fashion Week designers ask: Who wants a hug?

By Samantha Critchell, AP Wire Service

NEW YORK (AP), Sep 12 _ Since the economic downturn began, fashion designers have brought us plenty of hard-edged looks: rock-star leather, gladiator shoes, '80s-style shoulder pads.

The message was clear enough _ fashion was preparing us for battle.

But for spring 2010, designers seem to be asking instead: Who wants a hug?

A softer, easier look dominated as New York Fashion Week entered its third day on Saturday. The look was, if not comfortable, at least less armor-like. At Adam, the soothing cream-and-beige palette was jazzed up just a bit with copper discs and seashells, and the heart of the Lacoste collection were easy, breezy apres-beach styles.

There were also several vibrant and optimistic outfits, maybe signaling a broader change in attitude: Lacoste sent models out for a finale in bright, sunshine yellow, from the sunglasses over the eyes to the slip-on flats on their feet. Georges Chakra presented a series of candy-colored dresses.

But such a sunny disposition seemed a little out of place at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week tents, where the audience was still in almost all black, shod in gladiator sandals or studded boots.

Lay down your armor? The crowd says, not yet.



LACOSTE

Fashion Week is all about what's new, what's next, but that doesn't mean the basics should get bashed. Lacoste creative director Christophe Lemaire sent out a spring collection that was cheerful, youthful and wearable _ nothing wrong with that.

Starting off with tennis whites (with the distinctive sound of balls being hit on a court as the soundtrack), most styles were cut long and lean, including the polo shirts, but there was an adorable bouncy white skirt that easily could go from the court to cocktails.

The heart of the collection was the easy, beachy clothes that were inspired by 1920s photos of Jacques-Henri Lartigue, who ``captured a generation of leisure for whom life was simple, sporty and chic.''

A model wearing crisp white palazzo pants with a simple black racer-back top could have been strolling in the early evening along the French Riviera, with a date wearing the light gray safari jacket included in the Lacoste menswear line.



CYNTHIA ROWLEY

The ``show'' began at Cynthia Rowley's spring collection preview before the first model was seen.

Just seconds before the ``abandoned ballroom''-themed outfits began their parade on Friday, a giant drop-cloth was released from above and floated down to cover the runway that was placed in the middle of an old bank building.

That set the stage for a series of chic outfits that carried out the theme: There was an ivory tank dress with a shredded canvas belt and a neckline dotted with ``bleeding'' black paint, a slashed-ribbon dress made of a similar ivory canvas, and a nubby double-breasted linen jacket with matte-sequin evening tap pants.

Two duos of peplum tops that protrude from the hip, paired with too-pouffy evening shorts and silk trousers, were just too much fabric. That attention to the hip seems to be an emerging trend at New York Fashion Week, as is unconventional, tweaked floral prints, which Rowley also offered.

Instead of cutesy, precious flowers, the prints here were blurred like they were caught in the rain. It made for a feminine but fashion-forward statement on a banded dress with a handful of fabric petals dotting the dress, as if the others had already been picked.



GEORGES CHAKRA

Georges Chakra's starlet fans don't want downer dresses, so he doesn't put them on the runway. The spring collection of his ready-to-wear Edition label has splash, flash and color.

Gown after gown was embellished with jeweled necklines, elaborate pleating details and skinny silver belts. The silhouettes alternated between flowing, draped frocks that would glide down a red carpet, or fitted dresses that would show off a tiny waist.

Chakra occasionally showed restraint, and that paid off with a sophisticated, body-hugging black dress with insets of satin and tulle, and a white chiffon dress with vertical waves of fabric creating an even longer, leaner shape.

The candy-colored dresses, especially the pink ones, seemed a little out of place. So far the season has resisted anything too showy or flamboyant _ until now.



ERIN WASSON

They say you should do what you know, and model-turned-fashion designer Erin Wasson knows what tall, slim young women wear.

The catwalkers that dart in and out of the Bryant Park tents are often in jeans, micro shorts, tissuelike T-shirts and leather jackets, and that's just what Wasson, for the line Wasson X RVCA, put on the runway Friday night.

Wasson, best known as a face of Maybelline, sent out a parade of shirts that alternately bared the midriff or the back, jeans with cutout sides, T-shirt dresses and studded minis. Almost everything seemed to hug the body and bare quite a bit of leg.

Some of the pieces seemed inspired by Native Americans, complete with fringe, and others had an almost savage vibe _ think a loose sweater with strategic holes or a mesh top-and-bottom ensemble with slashes in the fabric.

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