Arts Post
Posted at 12:40 PM ET, 09/14/2011

J. Crew, Marchesa, Tory Burch and more at New York Fashion Week

Above and below: The spring 2012 collection of designer Tory Burch was presented Tuesday during Fashion Week in New York. (Richard Drew - AP)
On Day 6 of New York Fashion Week, designer Tory Burch kicked off the morning with her first-ever runway show, presenting a batch of retro-inspired skirts, jackets and dresses that were inspired by “Deauville in the Twenties,” according to her blog. In a palette of navy, rust, mustard and tangerine, Burch hit the highlights that have helped her find a devoted following — A-line dresses, mix-and-match prints and uptown tweed jackets, all punctuated by the models’ polished coifs and uber-pointy kitten heels.

But Burch left some room for experimentation, adding rows of navy raffia fringe to a silk chiffon jacket, opting for floor-grazing length with three chiffon gowns and putting her own polished spin on backpacks and platform sandals, two trends that surfaced last spring.
(Richard Drew - AP)

At the J. Crew presentation, the crowd went mad when Beyonce, clad in a body-hugging gold-sequined mini dress, and her sister Solange Knowles arrived. Then the spotlight turned back to a women’s collection designed by Marissa Webb and menswear designed by Frank Muytjens, under the watchful eye of J. Crew creative director Jenna Lyons.

For women, eye-popping combinations of fuchsia, coral, lemon, aquamarine and kelly green were balanced by looks that embraced essential prep: trench coats, modest hemlines and a palette of chambray, navy and crimson. By now, the “Jenna effect” — quirky color combos, the mish-mash of formal and casual, menswear styling — surprises no one. But come next spring, the colorful clutches — one mint green satchel, in particular — and the pastel and printed shoes are what shoppers will covet.
Neon looks not garish but wearable, in this trio from J. Crew. (Ned Martel - Ned Martel)

At Vera Wang, after Beyonce did a quick costume change and slipped quietly into her front-row seat, the designer channeled Alice in Wonderland and 18th-century wallpaper (yes, you read that correctly) in a collection that seemed vaguely futuristic, slightly trippy and — in some instances — downright confusing. The designer is willing to experiment with texture, and certain looks — a mint ensemble that with a quilted vest and a chiffon skirt, for example — highlighted her skill in that arena.

But several looks, primarily those that paired fitted, peplum-waist tops with little more than panties, raised questions as to whom Wang has in mind with the collection — certainly not her more conservative clientele or those who love the romantic draping and pleating of past collections. At least some good news for those who love leggings: Wang’s psychedelic prints actually made the skin-hugging staples look like futuristic armor, which felt decidedly fresh.
A piece from the Vera Wang Spring 2012 fashion show at Lincoln Center on Tuesday. (Frazer Harrison - GETTY IMAGES FOR MERCEDES-BENZ F)

Like Tory Burch before them, Marchesa designers Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig hosted their first-ever runway show Tuesday, as well, featuring a spring collection inspired by an Ilya Repin painting of an underwater world. To parlay the ocean depths into a collection of formal gowns, the designers used illusion netting, scale-like embroidery and cascades of metallic and silk fringe.

While Chapman and Craig have mastered the art of folding, pleating, tucking and manipulating fabric into forms either frothy or sculptural, a turn toward the sleek and sensual imbued the collection with a sense of change. Of course, there was tulle — and lots of it — along with lace and feathers, and plenty of Hollywood-ready gowns that we’ll no doubt see on a red carpet very soon. But the real chill-inducing pieces were those bedecked with swinging chiffon tendrils and cascading gold fringe, designed to mimic the elegant tentacles of a jellyfish. Among the front-row fans: Emma Roberts, Mandy Moore, Rachel Zoe, Michelle Monaghan, Kelly Osborne and reality-TV alums Olivia Palermo and Louise Roe.

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By  |  12:40 PM ET, 09/14/2011

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