NEW YORK — A flurry of fashion assistants rushed to protect racks of clothes backstage at New York Fashion Week from Saturday's sudden downpours — perhaps as potent a reminder as any during these spring previews that seasons can be temperamental.
Maybe that's why leather is as common in these previews for spring and summer 2013 as the pops of color and chiffon you might expect.
Designers have been moving away from seasonal dressing, meaning that models at Rag & Bone endured layers of leather in a roasting un-air conditioned preview on Thursday. Year-round shopping means some designers even offer outfits previewed for spring immediately online.
"I'm not designing specifically for 'the show' or even for spring," said Tom Mora of J. Crew, which has a preview here on Tuesday. "We have deliveries once a month and we always want it to look new."
The crowd traded tank tops and open-toed shoes on Thursday for long sleeves and boots on Friday as rain leaked through the tents at Lincoln Center. A garbage can was used to collect rain leaking through backstage at Jill Stuart.
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week previews for retailers, editors and stylists continue for eight days, before the fashion crowd heads for London, Milan and Paris.
The town met the country when designer Billy Reid infused his men's and women's collections with some of his Alabama charm.
Ascots, pelican prints and fishing shirts took over a very urban space Friday night sandwiched between art galleries in Chelsea. He offered a coated cotton utility jacket paired with high-waisted trousers and a gold linen shirtdress with exaggerated pockets for women, and a leather peak-lapel jacket, worn with a linen mock turtleneck and sharkskin-texture trouser for men.
When Reid's two worlds come together, the audience sees charm, good taste and a bit of wit. Perhaps more importantly, though, there's a sense of reality here: There are stylish linen sportcoats, luxe — and on-trend — leather looks, and well-tailored suits, including chic, slim pantsuits for women, that one could imagine being worn by the finicky fashion crowd and everyone else.
The warning should come that while the styles have broad appeal, the price tags might not. Reid seems to favor rich fabrics and materials, especially suedes, lambskin and leather in beige, bone and tobacco.
CUSHNIE ET OCHS
The Cushnie et Ochs spring collection was full of chic, sharp lines, but designers Carly Cushnie and Michelle Ochs didn't use a razor's edge to get them.
It was clean without the mean on this runway at the downtown Milk Studios at New York Fashion Week on Friday.
A group of white dresses — one a slinky jersey, one with butterfly sleeves and another with skin-baring slits on the bodice and seemingly held together at the bustline by a metal triangle — set the tone of relaxed elegance, while a parade of black dresses, dressier in silk faille and satin that emphasized sheath shapes and high waists, sealed the no-nonsense deal.
Sandwiched in between the black and white were the shades of ocean blue that have proved popular along with black and white at these seasonal previews.
Charlotte Ronson said it with fishnet accents and see-through vinyl varsity jackets during a runway show filled with flouncy dresses in sea greens, ocean blues, lemonade and mint.
To the beat of her DJ twin, Samantha, the designer on Friday also sent out a water lily print in black, blue and taupe for dresses, skirts and bralettes.
Dresses were girly, some with pleated bottoms above the knee. Others were done with sheer panels also used in peplum blouses and with a denim stripe print.
Paris Hilton, Rachel Zoe, Kimora Lee Simmons and her ex-husband, Russell Simmons, sat in the front row with their daughters.
Tommy Hilfiger wants men to put some prep in their step with his varsity-inspired collection, fit for an afternoon cricket match or a leisurely day on the yacht.
Seersucker blazers and shorts in Hilfiger's signature red, white and blue were adorned with college emblems and gold insignia buttons. Slim-fitted suits were paired with crisp, button-down shirts or V-neck cashmere sweaters. And there were stripes— lots and lots of stripes in a collection inspired by Hilfiger's style icons: James Dean, Paul Newman and the Kennedys.
"We think that stripes are really going to be the rule of the spring/summer for men," Hilfiger said before the show.
Gold-medalist swimmer Nathan Adrian sat front row alongside Joshua Bowman and Gabriel Mann, stars of ABC's "Revenge."
"I've been wearing Tommy since high school and it's just so sharp," said Mann. "I think that's my favorite style actually: prep with edge."
AP Writers Leanne Italie and Nicole Evatt contributed to this report.
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