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April 5, 2011 > Mother Nature's gone glam in an enchanted forest

Mother Nature's gone glam in an enchanted forest

By Samantha Critchell, AP Fashion Writer
Submitted By AP Wire Service

NEW YORK (AP), Feb 12 - Looking for Mother Nature? She's got her glam on in an enchanted forest.

Designers at New York Fashion Week have foraged enough texture and nature-inspired embellishment (think leaves and bark) to keep the party going through fall.

Jill Stuart let fly a bold print of owls with open wings. There were foxes and wolves, too, and faux fawn fur on her runway Saturday.

Prabal Gurung told a fairytale with eyelash feathers on whites and grays. There was a darker chapter or two in his black-slash leggings and black lace-up leather glovettes.

Feathers showed up in Jason Wu's opulent, Versailles-inspired collection, sewn on one by one, some burned at the tip for even more affect. He painted the hair of his models with gold leaf and hid their faces behind lace.

The deep woods were on the mind of Luca Luca creative director Raul Melgoza, in his feminine sheers with tough, barklike fabrics.

It's Mother Nature to the rescue, perhaps, but the dark storm has mostly passed.

``I think people want to dress up,'' Wu told The Associated Press in an interview Saturday. ``People are feeling optimistic right now.''

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JILL STUART

The oversized owl print that opened her show steered her in a more adult, sophisticated direction than the black-and-white rock princess that was her signature for several seasons.

Stuart said backstage that she envisioned an enchanted forest. With that came more color, longer lengths and chicer shapes.

``I am loving color right now. People need it,'' she said. She gravitated toward navy, teal, orange and the shade of a fine red wine that looked best in a trenchcoat topping a metallic-knit tweed sweater dress.

A drop-waist orange dress with the top half made of leather and the bottom done in suede pleats was an example of how Stuart added the right amount of interest to a clean silhouette.

She added, ``And I'm loving right now anything just above the knee or below it at mid-calf.''

Stuart experimented with prints, small- and large-scale owls, foxes and wolves, among her favorite critters. There was a long vest that mimicked the fur of a fawn worn with a clean navy sweater and navy skirt. A shorter version of the vest went over an oatmeal elbow-patch sweater and trousers.

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PRABAL GURUNG

His newest collection was a fairy tale gone awry, starring a princess ready to shed her perfect image.

But there was still a happy ending, with the rising star showing a maturity in his message - and a greater taste for glamour.

Karlie Kloss opened the show in a draped red party dress with one shoulder purposely placed down the arm. Her lace-up leather glovettes emphasized a rebellious spirit.

``Prabal is excited by this woman jilted at the altar,'' observed stylist Mary Alice Stephenson. ``She is dripping in glamour and money, and there's no better time to show it. ... This collection feels complicated - in a good way.''

There was contrast between tough leather dresses with laser cuts and delicate crepe bias-cut gowns. Some looks hugged the body, while others drifted away effortlessly.

A bustier dress with grosgrain ribbon straps and eyelashlike feathers on the skirt offered something for the flirt and the vixen, while the sheer chiffon robe over a sheath dress touched with lace was just sexy.

Carolina Herrera sat in the front row to show her support of the industry's young talent, and especially Gurung. ``He has his own ideas. He knows where he wants to go,'' she said.

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EDUN

A dressed-up Edun debuted on the catwalk in a fall collection dubbed ``Storytellers and Liars.''

Stylists, editors and retailers went bright and early to the dark, cavernous warehouse across from the Hudson River to see ladylike printed-scarf looks offset by leather, fair isle sweaters and chunky-rib knits, and elongated turtlenecks with slim, long-line trousers.

The brand was founded by Bono and his wife Ali Hewson in an effort to bring a steady, sustainable manufacturing industry to Africa. The creative reins of Edun now belong to Sharon Wachoub.

Wachoub said in her notes that she wanted to explore ``storytelling as it changes over time in various cultures. When a story is passed down through generations, it becomes a reflection of the teller and develops a new meaning that can be seen as real or fantasy.''

The tale of this collection is full of nocturnal creatures. They wear a cropped quilted bomber with a stripe-print scuba zip-up shirt, and smart leather shirtdresses. A fringe crochet skirt is paired with a raw-edge leather skirt and a chunky sweater coat.

It's a long way from the glorified T-shirts and jeans Edun started with at its launch in 2005.

This season, there was a smoldering palette of shades of black, with some blue, green and purple.

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REBECCA TAYLOR

She chose a palette of deep blue, magenta and wine for her flirty flower-print dresses.

The New Zealand-born designer used shearling, cashmere and alpaca to showcase her flouncy feminine look.

Taylor said backstage that she found inspiration in the '70s club scene. She paired a dove gray hand-knit cable sweater with an electric blue wrap skirt.

The blue, she said, was inspired by ``being in Times Square during storms.''

Taylor embellished skirts and dresses with sparkly glitter flowers in silver and blue. Another wine-colored dress had a halter neckline and tiered ruffles with lace sides.

Actresses Michelle Trachtenberg and Garcelle Beauvais sat in the front row. Trachtenberg said Taylor's designs are what ``you want to wear on a date.''

``She's the epitome of girlie glam and elegance,'' she said.

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