Special effects and elaborate sets at NY Fashion Week

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A-list designers broke new ground at New York Fashion week with innovative stagings led by wedding couturier to the stars Vera Wang, Polo by Ralph Lauren and Donna Karan.

Wang, 65, one of America’s most popular fashion designers, loves black and her collection for spring/summer 2015 was no exception.

Wang decked out a Chelsea gallery in a striking take on the famous Tuileries Garden in Paris where the models came out from behind a wall of black box trees and strode down a gravel-strewn runway that was difficult to navigate in high heels.

“It’s a bit my version of the Tuileries… done in a very New York way, notably in the lack of color,” she explained to AFP.

It may not have been Versailles but Wang said her collection had “the spirit, extravagence and feminity, but also the weakness and pride of Marie-Antoinette.”

There were ruffles, ruching, wide pleats belted at the waist, mini dresses, crepe trousers, bandeau tops and asymmetric jackets.

Trapeze dresses were heavily embellished with stones and Swarovski crystals, before her collection gave way to a lighter, freer silhouette of flowered silk to the ground and tulle skirts.

The contrast between controlled black tailing and something much more fluid paid tribute to “different personalities of women,” she said, summing it up as “boyish boudoir, baby bohemian.”

“It’s a voyage. Even inside the woman, there is not only one personality,” Wang said.

– Gilot, painter lover of Picasso –

Tory Burch used the impressive backdrop of the Lincoln Center skyline to showcase a simple, elegant and fresh collection before floor-to-ceiling windows at the Avery Fisher Hall.

The billionaire head of the eponymous global affordable luxury brand told AFP that she was inspired by the spirit of French painter Francoise Gilot, a mistress of Pablo Picasso.

Victoria Secret model Lily Aldridge was guest of honor to watch the runway show of skirts, knits and dresses done up in cream, navy, white, mustard and pink.

Texture came in the form of raffia tweeds, graphic smocking and knits paired with digital print counterparts, worn with oversized earrings, woven leather flats and color-blocked bags.

“I love the idea of her being such a strong woman,” Burch told AFP when asked why Gilot had been such an inspiration. “She was also an incredible artist in her own right,” Burch said.

Late Monday, Ralph Lauren made a Fashion Week first by heading to Central Park to unveil his Polo line of urban and bohemian chic at a spectacularly innovative 4D holographic event.

Hand-picked guests and celebrities were driven by golf buggy to the edge of the lake at Cherry Hill to watch the spectacle on an enormous screen 60 feet (18 meters) by 150 feet (45 meters).

With Lauren himself in attendance, the models appeared and then disappeared as mirages and against special effect backdrops such as the Brooklyn Bridge, High Line or a lighthouse.

Guests were offered lobster, mini “Ralph” burgers and avocado salads washed down with champagne before being driven back.

– Towering hats –

If your average model wasn’t tall enough already, New York designer Donna Karan elevated them higher by parading them down the runway in towering hats by London milliner Stephen Jones.

“I don’t think I would fit through the door,” a towering Karlie Kloss, one of America’s top models, told AFP backstage when asked if she would wear her golden concoction to a party.

“I love hats, particularly in the spring and summer,” Karan told AFP after presenting her Donna Karan line — which like her DKNY collection on Sunday, was a celebration of New York.

“I have done India, I have done Africa, I’ve done Bali, I’ve done Haiti, I’ve done all the countries that I love and I said the art of New York is just as wonderful.

“So why not celebrate the art of New York and the all graffiti mode and all of that,” she told journalists.

American designer Phillip Lim, known for his simple elegance and freshness, said that the inspiration for his newest collection was the inside of a bedroom.

Starting a year-long renovation project last October, he was confined to his bedroom, so he decided to turn that — and the feeling of being protected — into his inspiration.

“Hence the mattress feel, the satin,” he told AFP.

“Even the print was this idea of a window in your bedroom at dusk and half open, you see like a tree outside, but you only see the shadows of the tree.”

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