Nubby, shiny material familiar to varsity athletes surprisingly made sense on a coat that was paired with a goatskin collar shawl, lace-inset blouse and stretch-wool seamed pants.
But Thakoon Panichgul put together a cohesive catwalk of seemingly unrelated modern neoprene, a space-age dandelion print, beaded dragonfly embroidery and wallpaper-inspired florals.
He hit on a few of the trends that seem to be emerging from these previews, including peplums and structured rounded shoulders, but his collection was not done with a heavy hand, leaving a pleasant trail of almost vintagelike looks.
Posen presented his smallest show in years, taking a breath from a whirlwind few months that included joining "Project Runway" as a judge.
For a designer who thrives on flashbulbs, cameras and frenzy, the change might seem odd, but he said his intimate show at the Plaza Hotel was the best way to sharpen his focus in a collection that was thoughtful and intellectual.
"My fantasies about glamour or about society, about travel, all took place here growing up in New York. When you drive by great historical backgrounds, this is where Halston did his first shows, where Oscar de la Renta used to show," Posen said.
Part of Posen's signature are red-carpet gowns, such as the strapless, draped bustier ballgown worn by Crystal Renn and the architectural peplum gown with cutouts and sharp shoulders worn by Coco Rocha.
The tireless 71-year-old designer, best known for punky prom dresses and a lot of pink, introduced her fall collection as a theatrical exercise video for the Style Network program "Betsey and Lulu," which follows the lives of Johnson and her daughter.
It was a catwalk of energetic, giggly models in active wear chatting on cellphones as they waved to attendees, then an exercise routine led by the designer that included running in place, yoga and pull-ups. Rows of pink yoga mats were strewn on the runway, each accompanied by a pair of high-top sneakers, towels and wine bottles.
The collection, named "BJ Kicks A," veered from the high school dance party looks that she has championed for decades, running toward a junior high school gym class with a lot of cheek. It was an explosion of neon pink and yellow, animal prints and plaids on mini dresses worn over leggings, a veritable visual feast piled over one another.
As a whole, branching out beyond prom dresses was a smart move for the brand, which filed for bankruptcy protection more than a year ago and is now owned by Steve Madden.
At first, Hilfiger's looks, staged like a movie-set library, looked like they were built on the Savile Row-styled menswear and Ivy League prep-school uniforms he has played with for almost 30 years.
There were houndstooth prints in every scale imaginable — on a coat, turtleneck, tuxedo pants and even a dickie — and probably even more plaid.
"Classics receive an unexpected twist," was Hilfiger's mantra, putting some newness on the catwalk while maintaining a relatable ease that would appeal to his broad audience.
Together on the runway, the collection evoked mod for 2013. The leather argyle pattern shifts and shirtdresses could reintroduce his muses — and fashion icons — Twiggy, Mary Quant and Marianne Faithfull to a new generation.
Romantic violet is the base of Ralph Rucci's new collection.
"It's a personal reference," he explained. Pried yet further, he added: "It's the eye color of someone in my life."
Rucci's brilliant shade of violet appeared in a "mink pullover" — the mere term a clear sign of how he is attempting to meld his signature luxury into more casual garments.
The same color returned in dresses of wool jersey or crêpe, in a silk raincoat, in a sable coat, in a particularly well-proportioned cashmere suit, in a cashmere coat with leather embroidery, and even in filmy lace pajamas.
And it appeared once more for the final, show-ending garment: a long wool gown with tulle insets.
Rucci, famous for his intricate couture techniques, has a high-profile following. Guests included Martha Stewart and Sandra Bernhard.
Associated Press writers Jocelyn Noveck and Amanda Kwan contributed to this story.
Follow Samantha Critchell on Twitter at http://twitter.com/AP_Fashion
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