NEW YORK - Designers used literal and loose interpretations of film and art on the runways at New York Fashion Week.
The common thread through all the fall collections, though, was black. Black has emerged as the color for next season, complemented either by white or other dark neutrals.
Calvin Klein, Vera Wang, J. Mendel, Temperley and Proenza Schouler were among Thursday's previews.
Calvin Klein: It's no surprise that Francisco Costa's newest looks for Calvin Klein had a quiet coolness to them - that's the brand's signature. But amid the almost entirely black architectural collection was one of the best bright dresses seen over the past seven days of previews: an ivory, black and red spaghetti-strap dress with vertical strips of chevron- and rectangle-shaped beads.
If only a celebrity would be bold enough to step out of that classic Hollywood glamour look and take this risk on the red carpet, she'd be rewarded for reinvigorating what's become a tired parade of satin, glamourpuss gowns.
Actually, there were more details - however subtle they might have been - on this runway than on most others. Pleats on dresses revealed sheer insets as models took their steps and a wool jacket, also featuring a chevron pattern, had subtle metallic threads to give just a bit of sparkle.
Daytime looks, including tailored herringbone trousers and a cream-and-black sweater with braiding around the neck, also were lovely but took a back seat to the dressier styles.
Vera Wang: Wang used the 1950s as a starting point for a collection that she decorated with either corsages in chunky fabrics or trench coat belts on almost every piece.
Wang said she was exploring the darkness and sophistication of Mark Rothko's paintings and the film noir "The Talented Mr. Ripley." That translated to a black-and-gray color-blocked cardigan coat with a black slip dress and handkerchief ruffle and a loose belted column dress with a dark purple tulle neck ruffle that framed the model's face.
Some of the Rothko prints had the effect of a tie-dye fabric, but because of the subdued colors, they mimicked a rolling desert instead of a psychedelic concert T-shirt.
No Vera Wang show would be complete without evening gowns, but instead of stilettos, the models wore ballerina flats, and a white draped chiffon gown with a beaded strap over one shoulder was positively Greek goddess.
J. Mendel: Bonnie - as in the 1967 film "Bonnie and Clyde" - was designer Gilles Mendel's muse for this collection. She's cool and tough, and his Bonnie "gets to keep all of the money," Mendel said in his notes.
Mendel is a furrier at heart, so instead of the leather that many designers use to invoke toughness, he used sheared fur, which was sleek and contemporary.
A gray broadtail blazer was definitely part of an outfit, not an outerwear afterthought. On the runway, it was worn with a lace blouse and velvet pants. A black satin cocktail dress had a sexy lace inset on the chest and a mink hemline.
Mendel excelled at dresses, perfect for the socialite who wears his clothes, including sheer, soft, hand-pleated dresses and silk floral gowns. But the best and most inventive piece was a white knitted mink cardigan, belted at the waist; the ultimate example of dressed-up casual.
Temperley: London-based designer Alice Temperley named her dresses and daywear for Hollywood screen sirens of the 1940s, and she successfully recreated the glamour of the era.
The black Olivia de Havilland dress and a jacket with sequins around the collar would be a welcome addition to the red carpet anytime, as would the ocean-blue Ava Gardner gown, with its gathered bust and V straps. A leather jacket named for Vivien Leigh had quilting on the cuffs and around the waist - and was very chic.
There were a handful of casual styles, too. A wine-and-black cashmere tunic would look great with skinny jeans, though the model wore it as a minidress.
Proenza Schouler: The young design duo of Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez pieced together a sleek patchwork collection that included leather pencil skirts with zippers as decoration and super-skinny tuxedo pants worn with sheer chiffon tops.
A tight copper lace dress also covered in zippers was sexy and suggestive without showing one bit of skin - the model wore a turtleneck under it.
Two noteworthy coats were a color-blocked pony skin coat that featured purple leather patches and a shift-style patent leather coat.
On the Net: