(AP) Most people are taught from a young age that they want their outfits to match.
Isn't that why there are suits? And belts should complement shoes. And try to match your shades of black, right?
The biggest group of offenders to the conventional wisdom, however, is probably fashion designers. In the styles they've been previewing at New York Fashion Week, which hits its midpoint Sunday, it's been juxtaposition" this and "opposite" that.
"It's all in the mix: feminine with masculine, sexy and slouchy, tailored with sport, chic with street," according to notes for the DKNY show.
It was OK at Tracy Reese that a raffia lace dance skirt covered with circle patterns was worn with a floral cropped skirt and a checkered backpack was strapped to a floral top.
Designers can do it well, sometimes, with years of experience mixing colors and patterns and having confidence. And times have changed, too.
"There's more freedom now to express yourself through your clothes than there was 20 years ago, 50 years ago. You can wear that full feminine skirt with the man's shirt. Go ahead, take your cues from the runway," Reese said.
Cole's sporty Anorak and track jackets, hoodies and drawstring pants weren't clothes to just throw on in the morning completely without care. The mix of snakeskin, calf-hair camo and leather elevated normally casual silhouettes.
"The world is consumed with myriad points of view," said Cole in his notes. "And through ever-emerging technologies, our points of view can now be made available to everyone, everywhere."
That's why he sent his models down the runway with their own devices to snap the crowd.
The new collection, he said, "embraces this idea, not only through the device of a live stream Vine mosaic that will broadcast the fashion show to the world, but also by celebrating the creative energy the digital age embodies."
The tight ship Victoria Beckham seems to run at New York Fashion Week allowed her newest collection to sail smoothly down the runway.
For Beckham, there is no chaos or confusion. That goes for her small, insider-only runway show as well as the clothes she offers. She sticks to her vision: a chic, no-fuss approach to fashion.
Things are mostly black and white, and there is no adornment or embellishment. She does allow for the occasional pop of pink, which is impactful because of her restraint.
It's become the norm that David Beckham comes out a few moments before the show to shake a few hands, and then their toddler daughter Harper sits on his lap as the models go by. They, along with everyone else, get only a short peek at Victoria Beckham, who pops out for a quick wave and stays away from the cameras.
Beckham evolves her aesthetic slowly, and seems not to jump on trends too quickly. The clean lines, looser shapes and affinity to mix-and-match opposites that have been popular during these previews for next spring were here, but all done with Beckham's stamp of clean sophistication.
"What became most important to me was to convey a feeling of balance across the collection there is a sense of fluidity set against graphic structures and this, together with the merging of boy and girl sensibilities are key to my aesthetic for spring/summer," she said in her notes.
Does Monique Lhuillier have perfect timing or what? New York Fashion Week hits right before the Emmy Awards and then again in February right before the Oscars. Hollywood surely is her bread and butter.
The looks on her runway Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week were lovely, and she clearly catered to her celebrity crowd with the many gowns and cocktail looks. But her own wardrobe was a factor, she said in a backstage interview: "I always look at women that I know and myself, and I'm like. 'What do I want to wear next?' I always tell myself I want to have to want to wear these clothes because if I don't, then women won't."
She offered for the next fashion cycle which would include the Hollywood awards season several looks that played with lace, sheerness, shape and a palette rooted in pinks and reds. "It's corals, reds, fuchsias, nudes and chocolate brown. Those five colors. Just over and over and it felt right."
Most of the looks took the pretty and feminine route, with asymmetrical hems and the now trendy belly-baring silhouettes. But there were a few dresses that went against the grain and were full on sparkle with Lucite collars and sequin embroidery: Those were among the most special outfits here.
Gone were the big ballgowns or super-slim sheaths. Do we miss them? Not really.
Cynthia Rowley was true to, well, Cynthia Rowley with fun and funky dresses and two-piece sets featuring thick embroidery in swirly patterns of leaves and geometrics.
A full, long skirt in rose was paired with the embroidery in yellow, one of the standouts Saturday at a presentation she turned into a Mexican fiesta in a cavernous hotel space that was once part of a seminary.
A short-sleeve dress in white with thin horizontal stripes had fans of blue embroidery at the chest and floppy, poppy red flower applique at the shoulders.
"For me, this season, I just wanted to be true to myself and my brand. It's sporty, it's pretty, it's a little sexy, a little bit colorful, but also experimenting with a lot of new techniques," she said.
One of those new techniques for spring was a two-piece, long skirt set with a flared, V-neck top. The skirt was done with horizontal stripes of denim on mesh. And she used the new embroidery on luxury fabrics bonded into two layers of luxe fabric, including silk and satin, to firm up the fabric for skirt sets and dresses.
Joseph Altuzarra, his mother and grandmother nearby backstage, offered this message for the woman he dresses: Relax this spring.
With an emphasis on "woman," as opposed to girl.
"I love the shape of the average woman's body and that's why I always say woman and not girl," the 30-year-old explained in an interview Saturday night after rolling out shimmery silvers and golds for evening, layered Oxford shirting for day and a range of silks shown at a downtown space, far from the Lincoln Center tents.
Altuzarra's woman isn't afraid of his high-slit dresses and skirts, long fringe on a white leather jacket and skirts or white wool ponchos as he left behind some of the structure and aggressiveness of collections past. Inspired in part by the patchwork of traditional Japanese Boro clothing for farmers and fisherman, he brought utilitarian grace in red and blue silk stripes, cotton jackets and blouses, and drawstring skirts.
This collection lends his brand an easy elegance, but his customer remains the same.
"She's someone who's quite sensual and is very in touch with her femininity, her sexuality," Altuzarra said. "I actually prefer dressing a woman as opposed to a young girl."
The best model for the new spring Herve Leger collection wasn't on the runway, she was next to it: Nicki Minaj clapped heartily for and took her own photos of each dress that was paraded in front of her at New York Fashion Week. Then she stood up in her own black bandage-style dress and gave designers Max and Lubov Azria a standing ovation.
Her presence at the show on Saturday largely changed the tone of the audience conversation, which had been about rumored financial troubles with the label, but Minaj even with the camera-and-security frenzy she caused helped put the focus back on the clothes.
Leger has a look: second-skin silhouettes that strictly follow the curves of the body. What's new each season is the palette black, blue and blush this time and the embellishment, which included zippers and fringe.
There also were flashes of skin on the bodice with strategic cutouts, emerging as a trend this season on other runways, too.
Hoffman has some hashtags for us: FEARLESS. RAINBOW. VIBES.
As in good vibes. As in good vibes inspired by color, light and happiness playing out in her bold spring collection.
She said in a backstage interview that the collection is fit for a gang of rainbow warriors. As in warriors with extra-long braids, some dressed in sheer chiffon adorned with neon orange, yellow and green. Others went into runway battle in bright tribal prints for mid-leg looks, shorts and swimsuits.
And there was tie dye, natch. In slouchy pants and a spandex maillot. And there was the sunrise. In a lilac jumpsuit with a lemon bikini.
"I'm being a little bolder this season," Hoffman said, "as fortune favors the bold."
At 27 and fresh from an island vacation, Christian Siriano the designer is working on Christian Siriano the mogul.
The former makeup artist and hair stylist has a new year-long beauty partnership with Sebastian Professional, an as-yet unnamed fragrance and his bespectacled eyes on designing, yes, eyewear.
And he hopes to expand his brick-and-mortar presence over the next few years. Now, he has just one namesake shop that opened last year in downtown Manhattan, selling everything from accessories to fancy home goods.
"The last year or two has been really about growing the business," Siriano said in an interview backstage. "I really wanted to make sure we were selling clothes first and really building with retailers."
So how big is too big for the season four "Project Runway" winner? Does he fret losing himself in a lifestyle brand?
"I thought it would be hard," Siriano said. "But at the end of the day, I'm growing up. I'm definitely learning every season about what I can do, what I can't do. What I like and what I don't like."
For spring, what he wanted was to take his ladies to the "Island of Women," Isla Mujeres on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. Bright yellow, coral and greens breezed down the runway in crepe for capes, or were woven into raffia.
Leanne Italie contributed to this report.
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