What clothes? Skin is ever in at NY Fashion Week

Associated Press Modified: September 9, 2012 at 10:47 pm •  Published: September 9, 2012
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NEW YORK (AP) — Bikini season may be over, but this is no time to tone down the workout. Many of the styles on the runway at New York Fashion Week flash a bit of skin here or there: bare midriffs, cutout backs, keyhole necklines.

The silhouettes in spring previews that entered a fourth day Sunday aren't necessarily skin tight, but it's not a season of full-on floaty frocks, either.

"We've gone so far away from overt sexiness, but the reality is, sex sells. At some point the shopper wants to be sexy," said Hal Rubenstein, fashion director of InStyle magazine. "Illusion fabric on a shoulder or a little skin showing on a midriff gives you a hint without giving it all away."

Victoria Beckham and DKNY continued the trend with bra-style tops, while many of Alexander Wang's looks were seemingly held together by fishing wire. Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week continues through Thursday before the fashion crowd heads to London, Milan and Paris.

ZAC POSEN

The audience had started griping about Zac Posen's delayed start, but as soon as Naomi Campbell took that first step on the runway, there was a collective "aha."

And then there was an "ooh."

The spring collection was being modeled on the terrace of Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall by many of the models who helped put Posen on the map a decade ago. Campbell, Erin O'Connor, Karolina Kurkova and Alek Wek were among the catwalkers who'd strut for the newbie because they were such fans of his masterfully made clothes.

Fast-forward to the new season, and Posen put them in romantic, glamorous gowns with the intricate, detailed, show-stopping sort of details that first won them over. Campbell wore a corseted daytime dress with a swingy dance hemline, setting the tone. The best of the gowns had either tons of tiny tulle pintucks, mermaid silhouettes or candy-ribbon peplums.

DIANE VON FURSTENBERG

Diane von Furstenberg called her spring collection "Palazzo." ''La Dolce Vita" also would have worked.

The muse has "the polish of a princess and the heart of a gypsy," von Furstenberg said, and she travels from Rome to Marrakesh and then off to Jaipur, India.

She takes with her on this journey tunics and skinny-leg pants — practically silk leggings — to wear during the day, and a blood-orange scarf gown attached to a silver choker and cuff bracelets for the night. She brings her kiwi-green gown with a cutout neckline just in case she'll need it for a last-minute, black-tie invitation.

The trip is definitely more play than work, a bit of a departure for von Furstenberg whose label often is the workhorse of a career woman. But these clothes fuel the fantasy she might be having at her desk.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin was on hand and Von Furstenberg and some of the models wore Google Glasses that were collecting video for a project to be released on Google-Plus and YouTube on Thursday.

VICTORIA BECKHAM

Victoria Beckham's show not only looks like her signature pulled-together, well-edited style, but it feels like her, too.

She's the thoughtful hostess with waiters offering morning juice to the crowd at the New York Public Library, but she keeps the guest list very tight. She's one of the biggest draws of the week, but there's no frenzy of paparazzi photographers. (Husband David Beckham, however, did take some photos from his seat.)

Beckham said she checks — or doublechecks — every look to make sure "it looks good from every angle."

The clothes for spring had a delicacy that she said was new for her this season, although the clothes remained substantial and structured. It was the touch of illusion lace, the lingerie bra top or hemline of pleated chiffon that took the edge off banded short skirts, zip-back sheaths and shirtdresses.

"I want to design what I want to wear," she said.

DKNY

What can stop traffic in always-bustling New York? Donna Karan in a taxicab-yellow raincoat.

Karan took her bow in the eye-catcher at Sunday's DKNY New York Fashion Week preview to the delight of the fashion insiders and to the passers-by on the street who could peek in the open doors to the Chelsea studio space.

She turned out a collection of mostly sporty looks featuring white perforated leather (think golf-glove material), camouflage prints, bathing suits-turned-bodysuits, bra tops and long neoprene dresses with mesh backs and sexy inserts. One of those dresses was in the same super-bright yellow that Karan wore.

DKNY is supposed to dress its customers every day and for every occasion, Karan said in a post-show interview: "When I can wear the same thing as the girls on the runway, I've done my job."

CHADO RALPH RUCCI

Color and contemporary details took the show for the luxury line Chado by Ralph Rucci.

Rucci and his team mixed old world glamour with new world touches like a swirl pattern of braiding on the sheer top of a chiffon-skirted dress. The same braiding in a riot of neon colors was used on one long sleeve of a basic black pantsuit.

Crystals sparkled on a coral blouse worn with a white wrap skirt that carried the pink along the hem, separated by a single black line. The minimalist line was also used in a wearable white tunic with bright pink at the waist and hem, paired with white cigarette pants.

A subtle quilting technique called trapunto lent elegance to silk faille suits and dresses made of the wetsuit material neoprene in white and bright pink.

THAKOON

You've got to have a sense of humor — and some guts — to send a birdcage-print dress down the runway as the opening look for a New York Fashion Week preview.

Thakoon Panichgul proved he has both.

The clothes mostly were more serious than silly (Panichgul dresses the first lady sometimes, after all), but, come on, a little gold chain dangling between the beaks of two embroidered birds is certainly a conversation starter.

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