NEW YORK, Sept. 10 (UPI) -- Cleavage is out.
So is black.
Instead, many of New York's top designers drew inspiration from a palette of vibrant colors and lots of sparkle from beads to diamonds for the upcoming spring season. Not that the start of the city's semi-annual Fashion Week was auspicious Wednesday amid pouring rain. The heavy rainfall held up many of the industry's VIPs showing up on time in their limos, if at all, to some of the earlier shows.
But even foul weather and unruly traffic couldn't dampen the upbeat vibe at the tents on Bryant Park in central Manhattan, where some of the biggest names in fashion are parading their latest designs to hundreds of industry insiders until Sept. 15. Couturiers that are household names such as Kenneth Cole and Bill Blass launched their latest lines amid much fanfare, while others including Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, and Zac Posen will be showing later in the week.
Perhaps Nicole Miller defined the next new wave in couture best so far this week when she unveiled her latest collection Thursday night, where golden hues with contrasts in aqua and rose prevailed. The Celtic knot also played a distinct role in her clothes, playing as a motif either embroidered directly onto the garments or used as an accent accessory. The overall Miller look for the spring season was distinctly a soupcon ethnic, catering to the whims of women who want to look feminine and yet not overbearingly so.
There was no shying away from colors by other designers, either, as most stayed away from the safe choice of black. Earlier Thursday, Cynthia Steffe showed off her line that was even more colorful with sharper shades of orange, yellow, and green, but like Miller, she too opted for the light, breezy style. But Steffe was eager to use more beads and jewels to accent her clothing, especially in the back to mark the end of a sweeping backline plunge.
Carolina Herrera too made full use of semi-precious stones, as she used them to embroider and jazz up otherwise clean-cut slip dresses.
"My collection is inspired by the women of the Forties and their homes," Herrera said, and her lineup featured bold colors including red and tangerine in presenting fitted tops and fuller skirts that was more for the classically-minded women who wanted something a bit more contemporary, complete with funky stones.
In short, after the somber months of the terrorist attacks and economic doldrums, fashionistas are ready to bling-bling and lust for luxuries like it's 1999.
No designer made such a case for accessorizing as did Gottex, however.
The Israeli swimsuit manufacturer hosted its own runway show at Bryant Park Monday night, and unveiled a collection not just of bikinis and one-piece swimwear, but also $30 million worth of diamonds. The casual observer might have dismissed the parade of jewelry paired with the bathing suits as mere bling-bling, but Gottex actually tied up with jewelers Vivid Collection to allow their waif-like models to be literally decked out to the nines with diamonds, with the finale swimsuit set being adorned with $18.3 million worth of diamonds.
That's a look precious few could afford, even if they wanted to, but a bit of sparkle to give a bit of oomph to clothes is certainly a trend that's likely to make it onto Main Street.
Another style that might be seen in shopping malls is the trend to stay away from plunging necklines and extreme decolletage, even as extreme low-rider jeans become de rigeur even for pre-teens. But bosom-loving fashion fans need not fear; showing breasts is still well and alive on the New York fashion scene. It's just that designers favor to show boobs in a more tantalizing manner, by using gauze, chiffon, or other barely-there materials to cover up the upper half of the body. In fact, some of the clothing from Steffe might have made even breast-baring Janet Jackson blush, even though the models were ostensibly fully covered.
So you have been warned of what may be coming soon to a boutique or department store near you.
And it's precisely the proximity between couture and Main Street fashion in New York that can be off-putting to some critics. Unlike Paris or Milan, where big names still use fashion shows to promote their tailor-made haute couture designs to a handful of clients with little regard for the average consumer, New York's catwalks are often planned with pret-a-porter lines in mind. Moreover, discount retailers keep a careful eye on what happens during Fashion Week so they can get an idea about how they can make cheaper clothing with a nod to the latest trend.
As a result, die-hard fashionistas may not find the New York collections as inspiring as their European counterparts. But there's no doubt that with the U.S. luxury-goods business rising nearly 28 percent over the first five months of 2004 from the same period a year ago, any translation from catwalk to shopping mall is good for business.