The duo said they wanted to start their business quietly, grow slowly and do it right.
The best of Karan's spring collection was classic Karan, day-to-night stretch dresses (especially a one-shouldered, block-print number), coats that you wouldn't want to take off, a man-tailored shirt definitively cut for a woman.
There were rich colors of tobacco and terra-cotta, and it seemed navy was Karan's new black.
She opened the show with a series of indigo-colored viscose dresses. There also were beaded, wrap miniskirts with silk tunics barely tucked into the waistband.
But the key piece was the scarf skirt, which was light and had a lot of life.
"It was all about a search for a scarf. I think as signature to what Donna Karan is about is a bodysuit and a scarf and the tailoring," Karan said.
She had spied a scarf she fell in love with and it took her on a journey to India — and she came back with a suitcase full of new ones.
"If somebody would say to me, 'What's the most important item to own?' It's a scarf ... because it covers up what you don't want to show, and it shows what you want to show, and it just flows with the body."
3.1 PHILLIP LIM
Lim said he was inspired to explore "different terrains, landscapes and rocks" in search of "something stable, sturdy and elementary to stand on."
What helped? Salt crystals that crunch underfoot at his 3.1 Phillip Lim show.
The designer proved better than many in expressing his theme clearly and forcefully, best of all in the embroidery that evoked intricate and colorful rock formations.
It's been a busy few months for Lim. In June, he won a Council of Fashion Designers of America award for his accessories. And on Sept. 15 he debuts his new line for Target — what he calls a "modern-day wardrobe for citizens on the go."
Zac Posen started draping his collection almost three months ago, and he was still doing it right up until the first look appeared on the runway.
It wasn't a last-minute rush — in fact, everything seemed incredibly quiet just before his show on Sunday night. It simply takes that long to hand-pleat chiffon and hand-paint organza. "Given the intensity of this collection, it has all been very calm," he said.
Posen even took a nap for almost an hour after the final sound and lighting checks, and before receiving a pep talk by phone from friend Naomi Campbell.
Models are important to Posen: Their loyalty and enthusiasm launched his career. Coco Rocha wore the first look on the catwalk, a pale-pink chiffon cape dress. Lindsey Wixson wore an ivory-colored bustier gown and go-to Posen muse Crystal Renn wore a lemon-colored frock with a wisteria print and fluttery short sleeves.
Derek Lam's clothes always have a pronounced urban edge. For spring, he wanted to be playful, too.
His show had some unexpected nuances such as sparks of bright yellow, breaking up his usual crisp color palette of black, white and navy. An elegant yellow crepe strapless gown came in sharp contrast to the series of bold plaids, in black and white or blue and white, that began the show.
"My work has always been rooted in American sportswear. So I'm just loosening it up, relaxing a bit," Lam said.
There was more than big, bold graphics on display at Edun, the label founded by rocker Bono and his wife, Ali Hewson.
There was also the debut of a new designer — Danielle Sherman — and a front row where Bono and Hewson were joined by Trudie Styler, Gina Gershon and Christy Turlington Burns.
The collection was heavy on black-and-white pieces in bold geometric prints: skirts, coats, roomy pants and short tanks over longer, flowing tops. There were also some large, soft gray sweaters, sportswear in bright orange and leather pieces in white, black and a rich cayenne color.