NEW YORK — 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.
New York Fashion Week ended Thursday and will be followed by previews in London, Paris and Milan, Italy.
Gwen Stefani covered all her bases in the finale show, offering shrunken pantsuits for work, swingy minis for play, tunics and leather leggings for mom duty (remember she's a rock star), coats for travel and gowns for the red carpet.
The one thing missing from her new collection were the very casual clothes that she previously put on the runway. They weren't missed because they aren't the clothes her fans expect to see her wearing — and that's really where her fashion credibility lies.
Stefani still had a few too many gimmicks, but that seems to be her crutch.
"I don't think people are just rooting for Gwen," said celebrity stylist Jay Manuel. "Her style is so spot on, people want to see her mix of rocker and fashion."
Stefani divided the outfits into six categories. "It's one collection, but like subcategories, which are always my inspiration," she said in an interview Wednesday. "We have Ragga girl, we got a soldier girl, we got an English girl, we got a glamour girl, we got a buffalo girl."
When there is such emphasis on tailoring and texture, even the slightest tweak in silhouette matters, and that's how Calvin Klein creative director Francisco Costa evolves his collections from season to season.
For fall, he's made his favorite shape a little looser — sometimes boxier — with sloped shoulders and a curved collar based on a baseball jacket.
Costa explained in the show's notes that he was aiming for "youthful exuberance with a sporty vibe and a fast pace."
An interesting twist on the sheath dress was a garment that looked like a dress from the back, giving women the ease they crave, but a slit just below the hip on the front created the illusion of flattering separates.
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."
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.
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.
Khan received a standing ovation on closing night for a collection filled with what he does best: High shine and elegant glamour.
The Indian-born designer's dresses were often blackless, sometimes flowing and most always glittery, some with beaded bodices, embroidered with floral threadwork and trimmed with ostrich feathers.
"This collection is an exploration of artistry, technique and heritage coming together to redefine the glamour of the cosmopolitan woman," the show's notes read.
Khan dressed first lady Michelle Obama for the first state dinner with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2009.
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. He presented lots of thin "paper leather" — in shirts, quilted jackets, a dress.
He mixed sleek stripes, checks, plaids, prints and jacquard, all "thrown together so it makes fashion."
The fashion mainstay used red, black and gray stripes in dresses and separates, sometimets sewn together in panels on a garment. He used the pattern on a dress paired with a black bolero jacket. The print matched the models' red-soled Christian Louboutin shoes.
He leaned on the silhouette of an egg in skirts and the bottom of dresses.
Ten years is worth celebrating in the fashion business, and Sarafpour pulled out the stops for her party dresses.
A series of three beaded goddess gowns showed that Sarafpour can do fancy.
Still, daywear is her strong suit, especially black-and-white pieces that would be basic if they weren't so finely crafted.
She offered a gray wool-jersey dress with a dropped waist and a lace insert, and black wool flounce skirt that looked like a ribbon was pulled through the hem like icing on a cake. The skirt was worn with an oversized hand-knit turtleneck.
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 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.
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. Silk dresses were designed with large long ruffles.
Her feminine luxury attracted Kristin Chenoweth and "The View" co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck to the front row.
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.
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.
Olivier Theyskens' first fall line for the label combined sheer fabrics and tailored coats.
The brand known for stylish, professional clothing put Theyskens in charge of artistic direction in October.
He paired long coats with short skirts and shorts. Tops and dresses were transparent. A sheer top peeked from under a black two-button suit with wide-legged pants.
Associated Press writers Caryn Rousseau and Jocelyn Noveck contributed to this report.