Kors, acting as a guest panelist, Posen, Heidi Klum and Nina Garcia were one big happy family when they took their seats to watch the collections of this season's contestants. (Kors and Klum joked they've spent so much time together over the years that they now look like brother and sister.)
"I didn't call Zac with any tips before he started. He knows what he's doing," Kors said. "I knew I was leaving it in very capable hands."
Chiming in, Posen added: "I had 10 seasons to watch Michael, and I had been a guest judge with him. I'm sure I learned a few things."
The show is the godmother of fashion reality TV, now in its 11th season. It was time for a change, said Klum, who is an executive producer.
The other new wrinkle this go-around is that the contestants have been working in teams — and they are not necessarily happy about it, Klum said.
CARMEN MARC VALVO
Valvo's tell-tale heart drew him to Edgar Allan Poe for inspiration.
"I was thinking long, lean, moody and dark," the designer said backstage. "Edgar Allan Poe. Creatures of the night. With a little rock 'n' roll, too."
The show featured some stunning gowns in ivory, grape and merlot, but most creations were in black. Valvo said he was so taken with black this season that he almost did the entire collection in it. "It really makes you focus on the structure and the detailing, to make sure each dress is different," he explained.
The show opened with what seemed a perfect nod to the stormy weather: An embroidered trench with patent leather squares, all in black.
Actress Nichole Galicia, who appears in "Django Unchained," especially loved a couple of gowns in flowing ivory — but was partial to the black lacy gowns, too. "I'm doing some mental shopping here," quipped the actress, who wore Valvo to a recent event honoring "Django" director Quentin Tarantino. "I'm still looking for an Oscar dress."
There's something new on the Edun runway this season: the Y chromosome.
The theme for fall is youth culture, and the label founded by U2 rocker Bono and his wife, Ali Hewson, decided to showcase men's clothes with equal emphasis.
"We've been making men's clothes for so long, but a lot of people didn't know that," Hewson said. "It's great to bring men's looks to the fore."
The look was strong and simple for the men: big black biker jackets, with fitted black jeans. On the women's side, many of the looks — from jackets to tops to dresses — featured little silver chains.
But not too thick, emphasized the label's designer, Sharon Wauchob.
"I didn't want it to be too aggressive and tough," she said backstage of the chain detailing. "It's always a very careful balance between expressing femininity and expressing a strong identity."
The Lang label went cubist, Picasso style.
The show in a funky downtown space was dubbed "Assemblage," for the many geometric dresses, skirts and coats combining a range of fabrics and textures.
But this Picasso, as interpreted by creative directors Nicole and Michael Colovos, was near-absent color, sticking mostly to shades of black, white and nude. Hints of bright yellow and blue broke through in some looks for fall.
The show was influenced, according to its notes, by an exhibition called Picasso Black and White, along with the work of Richard Prince in his book, "Prince/Picasso," which turns an eye on the nude female form ala the Spanish painter.
The Lang designers used a rubber-treated fabric for a raised effect. Some pieces combined leather, pressed felt, wool, pony and silk. The pony theme was carried into high-heel boots and pumps.
Jocelyn Noveck and Leanne Italie in New York contributed to this report.
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