Bursts of sunny, sultry citrus and sexy violet met up with muted sea tones on runways filled with flowers, both literal and reinvented, at New York Fashion Week's spring previews as Day 3 kicked in Saturday.
Color is everywhere this time around, combined with plenty of flounce and peekaboo sheers.
"The violet color is very enticing and will be a must-have color for spring," said Adam Glassman, creative director of O, The Oprah Magazine.
Jill Stuart's easy femininity came in soft, sherbet tones and comfy, resort-friendly shapes reminiscent of the early 1960s _ with palm trees thrown in. The relaxed wear was inspired by a book on lingerie she found in Copenhagen.
Prabal Gurung's futuristic flora was dominated by soft purples, full skirts and pants cut tight. Where there are flowers, there are birds. Look to Adam's runway for the winged motif in light pinks, purples and whites.
Happy color, color everywhere. Pantone had a beach party in mind when the color company named the Top 10 shades for women next spring: tangerine tango, solar power, sodalite blue, bellflower, margarita, cabaret, driftwood, sweet lilac, cockatoo (think sea foamy) and starfish.
Barely there is khaki and other brooding colors. Even the blacks were upbeat _ though the music wasn't _ in Helmet Lang's black-and-white show splashed with only yellow.
Flashes of neon peeked out from under sheer, optical white in Alexander Wang's spring collection. He opened with a tangerine hue and closed with the bright purple that seems like a must-have.
There was nothing understated about Cynthia Rowley's color muse. Her mirrored runway was about the "optical exuberance of gold" combined with "flash mobs of florals and animated shapes," according to her notes.
After eight days of spring previews in New York, the big show moves to London, then Milan and Paris.
Key for Stuart: "I wanted this collection to be a dream, a fantasy."
It came against a backdrop of mint green, lipstick pink, tangerine and a brighter shade of citrine gemstone yellow.
Stuart has significantly softened her look in recent seasons, moving away from the Stevie Nicks rocker look that had been her hallmark. The clothes on this runway seemed more appropriate for the next-generation Doris Day.
But there was something sweetly sexy in the drop-waist shifts, culottes and inverted-pleat skirts, too. Even the romper, which looked more like a cute mini shift until you got close to it, worked here. While girlie, they weren't prim or dowdy, which is surely important to Stuart's typically young customer _ someone like Emma Roberts, who sat in the front row.
Stuart picked up on two print motifs, the palm tree and flying birds, both of which reminded her of "happier times."
Last year's Council of Fashion Designers of America award winner for emerging talent has lived up to the hype.
If Gurung is part of fashion's future, his modern themes couldn't have been more on target: A violet floral print dress with a dropped waist, plunging back and circle mini skirt seemed tailored for a space-age goddess. Sharp-shouldered jackets with skinny pants _ some in a purple paint-dripped lame _ also had that futuristic vibe.
A white crepe dress with black side ties and an updated corset made appropriate for daylight offered a dominatrix look. And there's a starlet out there who'd be lucky to wear the black halter gown with razor-sharp tulle pleats down the side.
Laser-cut leather track shorts showed Gurung as a master of detail, although you have to wonder who is wearing those _ and where she's going.
"Loved, loved, loved it," gushed Adam Glassman, creative director of O, The Oprah Magazine. "Super fresh and chic. He obviously worked very hard on it. Polished and well made."
Wang was full of sporty details. There were technical fabrics, oversized pockets, exposed zippers, mesh and sharp laser-cut details. He also included lots of layers that mixed many textures, but nothing seemed too heavy for the season.
He included miniskirts and walking shorts, cargo vests and track jackets.
"We've already seen Alex's influence on the runways in New York and we're only three days in," said Kristina O'Neill, Harper's Bazaar executive editor. "There are anoraks, pops of neon and parachute fabrics everywhere. It was great to see him take his sporty references to the next level."
She noted references to track and field, auto racing, BMX and football jerseys. Some models carried a golf-bag "weekender" over their shoulder.
Wang's youthful customers come to him for cutting-edge casual. As a designer, he's increasingly a bellwether for what's to come. His runway attracts all the top editors, retailers and stylists _ and celebrities, including Alicia Keys, Courtney Love and Lea Michele this season. Linda Evangelista was in the front row.
Siriano's spring girl is a traveler with attitude in search of unusual finds at the sea dressed in bright, airy coral pink, chartreuse and citrus.
And she was wrapped in miles and miles of crepe, chiffon and sheer organza _ with enough ball gowns for multiple parties.
Siriano was going for thrown-together chic in effortless pairings of jersey stripe T-shirts and long, body-hugging skirts that flounced at the floor. Wide-legged crepe pants had easy drawstring waists and cropped beachcombers were matched with crepe blouses that had capes.
"I was looking at photographs of these really interesting underwater specimens, like acorn barnacles and other corals," he said before the show. "They're beautiful and have such color and light. I started thinking of this kind of girl who would travel to these places to find these interesting things."
Spirals of pleat work at the yoke flashed in a swingy razor-pleat cocktail dress in bright lemon. A long A-line skirt worn with one of his stripe boatneck T-shirts was adorned with tide pool swirls of applique in the color of oysters.
No recession runway for Rowley. She's ready for flash _ and flowers.
The outfits certainly had spunk; no shrinking violet is going to wear an Asian-inspired "bouquet" tuxedo jacket with second-skin leggings in a zigzag print.
From there, Rowley moved on to a mesh leather T-shirt with tight, tiny trunks, and a metallic sweater with gold shorts adorned with black appliques.
Rowley seemed to tap into her personal interest in surfing, pairing embroidered swim trunks with an orange T that had perforated leather sleeves.
Some looks had more of a balance of boldness and wearability, including a botanical-print dress with a henley-style neckline, and a gray sweatshirt-style top worn with a black skirt that teased the crowd.
Lindsay Lohan, wearing big sunglasses, sparkly high heels and a brand new outfit from Rowley, nodded approvingly throughout the show.
Limeade. Lemon. Some of Taylor's colors sound so scrumptious they should be eaten.
"There's enough bummer in the world," Taylor said backstage. "I just want girls to feel pretty and to feel sexy."
The New Zealand-born designer said she was aiming this time for something "modern, ethereal and angelic." The angelic part was evident in filmy dresses _ the "moonlight eyelet asymmetrical dress," for example, looked like a vintage nightgown.
Dresses like that and the "moonlight pieced T-shirt dress" looked both comfortable and delicate, but there were pieces with attitude, too, especially a series of garments made of "snake leather" (not the real thing): A dress, an apron top, a bomber jacket, a pair of pants.
There was also a digital printed army jacket, paired with a lemon yellow dress.
All in all, it was a user-friendly and accessible collection for people who want to look, well, pretty.
Raul Melgoza likes flowers, and for his latest collection the Luca Luca designer turned to a master for inspiration: The late American painter Georgia O'Keefe.
Florals were a prominent theme in Melgoza's spring line, particularly rosettes, which he presented in prints and in embroidery, in bright colors and in black and white.
The latter combo made for a stunning gown to close out his show.
On the more casual side, a periwinkle silk wrap blazer was paired with a berry-colored silk blouse and a rosette-print pant.
Colors were bright and whimsical, such as several numbers that combined royal blue and teal _ a royal blue seersucker wrap blazer, for example, paired with a royal-and-teal striped bustier. A lime green silk crepe bustier dress managed to feel both light and sexy.
This latest collection was based less on a theme than a mood, Melgoza said backstage.
"I really wanted to emphasize sensuality and femininity, and the female figure," he said. "So, for example, I expose the shoulders, or add some sheer inset detailing."
Adam Lippes found inspiration in the energy of the West Chelsea neighborhood of his design studio for a collection filled with prints of large flowers and polka-dots.
He'd look at the High Line, the elevated, green pedestrian path, and see a "runway in the sky," according to his notes.
That translated on the real runway at the Lincoln Center tents into classic tailored shapes _ think pantsuits and trench coats _ freshened up with touches of sheer, soft fabrics, and the feminine and optimistic colors of the season.
Models also wore for at least the second time in the same day in the same venue printed garments covered in birds. Lippes' best version was the black bird blouse with unexpected sheer panels and a scarf-tie neck, worn with a black cotton blazer and silk polka-dot shorts.
His floral looks were bold, a nice touch when he used the same print on a light cotton short-sleeve shirt and a heavier denim pencil skirt. The all-over flowers also worked on a fully beaded cocktail dress. It might have been too much of a good thing, though, on a jumpsuit.
AP Fashion Writer Samantha Critchell tweets from the AP Fashion Twitter account: http://twitter.com/AP_Fashion