Originally created 09/09/04

New York Fashion Week is back with Cole, Hilfiger, Herrera and others

NEW YORK -- Kenneth Cole, Carolina Herrera, Oscar de la Renta, Ralph Lauren, Zac Posen, Marc Jacobs and Donna Karan were among the designers set to preview their spring 2005 collections at New York Fashion Week.

Cole was in his traditional leadoff spot with Alan Cumming, Ludacris, novelist Brian Keith Jackson and Olympic track and field stars Derrick Peterson and Anthony Famiglietti expected to be in the front row at Wednesday morning's runway show.

Most of the some 80 shows during the eight-day event were scheduled at the tents in Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan. The lineup included design team Imitation of Christ on Wednesday and Tommy Hilfiger, back with his better sportswear H Hilfiger collection after sitting out last season, on Thursday.

Other designers set to preview their collections for retailers, editors, celebrities and other fashion fans during the week: Monique Lhuillier, Baby Phat, Betsey Johnson and Michael Kors.

Missing from the schedule: eveningwear designers Mark Badgley and James Mischka and Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, who won the Council of Fashion Designers of America award for best menswear designer earlier this year.

Combs was to host a champagne toast at his new flagship Sean John store on Fifth Avenue, a quick stroll from Bryant Park, on Thursday night.

Lhuillier, a Los Angeles-based designer who has made a name for herself making wedding gowns and red-carpet dresses for Hollywood starlets, is staging her fourth runway presentation Friday.

"It doesn't get easier, but you learn how to deal with the pressure a little better," she told The Associated Press Wednesday.

Lhuillier said her new ready-to-wear collection will be "white and crisp."

The Labor Day holiday, coupled with the monthlong vacation that most European fabric-makers take during August, makes for a mad rush to get ready.

"The design process starts early, really right after last season's show, but it's always a short deadline for Fashion Week," Lhuillier said. "It's the nature of the business."

Lhuillier, who brings four seamstresses with her from California, spent Tuesday casting models and doing a test run of hair and makeup.

"I'm looking for healthy-looking girls, fresh looking with a little bit of a tan and a glow - girls who can look relaxed," she said.

Katie Couric, Iman and Nia Vardalos were expected at the Bryant Park tents Wednesday to announce a partnership among the fashion industry, Fashion Week title sponsor Olympus and the Entertainment Industry Foundation's National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance to raise funds for the alliance.

The Conde Nast Media Group was sponsoring a Fashion Rocks concert Wednesday night at Radio City Music Hall with performances by Beyonce, Usher, Hoobastank and the Black Eyed Peas.

Meanwhile, Mischa Barton, star of television's "The O.C.," was to keep a blog of her favorite fashion looks for America Online.

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