Browne, whose work was honored this summer at the White House, explained that he'd been inspired by a Bauhaus artist popular in the 1920s, Oskar Schlemmer, a German known for his choreography — "conceptual ballets," Browne called them — as well as his visual art. "This is my homage to him," he said.
When you're Carolina Herrera, there is no reason to stand in your stiletto heels way out on a limb. Herrera tweaked her signature chic look just enough to be in line with some of the emerging trends without straying too far from what her woman likes.
She moved everything a bit away from the body and she played a lot with hemlines. Herrera gave a name to the popular dress length just a tad below mid-calf that's graced many catwalks during these previews for editors, buyers and stylists: the "longuette" dress.
But to go with the vibe of relaxed glamour that also has been pervasive, she trimmed pantsuits into shorts suits, even for evening, turning out black wool cropped jacket with white piping paired with black wool flounce shorts, and a cream-colored distressed organza jacket with pleated shorts, both decorated with gold "lightening" embroidery.
Her usual ballgown evolved into more of a slip-style gown with floral embellishment.
Reem Acra is known for her grand, timeless ballgowns, perfect for the red carpet. But this year she was feeling more artsy and more contemporary, she says.
"It's downtown meets uptown," the Lebanese designer said backstage following her Spring 2013 preview at Lincoln Center. "It's a modern attitude."
The modern looks came early in the show, with a series of casual — for Acra, that is — garments, many with leather cutouts. A navy leather bomber jacket with cutouts, for example, was paired with an ivory stretch trouser. A tailored dress in brilliant green leather was certain to spice up a day at the office.
As the show went on, looks became silkier and more luxurious. Many of the gowns appeared to be showing serious skin, but actually had side panels of nearly sheer material. Acra said her own favorite may have been a relatively unembellished but very striking vermilion gown with the sides cut out. "It's powerful, feminine, and simple," she said.
Elie Tahari turned his preview into a cocktail party, and the dress code was Palm Springs chic.
The female models wore cheerful shifts and sheath dresses in tropical prints and electric shades of pink, orange and green, loose tunics with white jeans, and tasteful sweater tops with second-skin pencil skirts. The men had on Bermudas, linen blazers and woven shirts, and they didn't shy away from a complemetary palette of lime green and lapis blue.
Tahari said he aimed to update some classic, good-time 1950s shapes.
The dominant vibe was the relaxed luxury that has turned up on several runways this round of seasonal previews, but there were the one or two looks that were cut a little slimmer, and had a more plunging neckline or shorter hem than all the rest. That's what makes a party, right?
A different set of rules apply when you're out on the high seas, and that goes for fashion, too. Tommy Hilfiger embraced the sailing life and nautical themes for his spring women's collection, infusing a relaxed attitude into his favorite tailored shapes.
Menswear-inspired pantsuits were done in a playful rope print and swimsuits got waistbands — one even got a shirt-style collar. Time for evening cocktails? The choices are a flowing red trapeze dress with an open back and braided straps, a school-boy navy blazer and slim Bermuda shorts or an oversized varsity cardigan that goes right over a bikini.
"This is the American voyage. She's traveling the world and it's about sea and land. It's about nautical and safari," Hilfiger said Sunday in a backstage interview.
The designer said he could imagine Jackie Kennedy Onassis and Lauren Hutton types in this wardrobe. They like luxury but nothing too fancy.