Layers are nothing new, but New York Fashion Week is showing them in a different way.
The list of trends for next fall is piling on as the catwalk previews of new designer collections near their homestretch: There's fur, leather and lace, cozy knits, military looks. The good news about the new styles is that you can wear them all at once.
The interest in layered separates bodes well for menswear-inspired styles, said Brandon Holley, editor-in-chief of Lucky magazine. "Men dress more in separates, and I think women are enjoying being out of the day dress. That's when style really comes in for me, when you pick the skirt that will go with the shirt, and the sweater and the bag, and a scarf."
Holley added, "It's not just layers, it's interesting layers."
The look also extends the life of any one piece through changes in weather. That summer top gets a sweater in the fall, Holley said, and the turtlenecks and knits are so light, you can wear them when it's warmer outside.
And, she said, it seems like it's going to be leather weather year-round.
At Wednesday's Michael Kors show at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week tents at Lincoln Center, models were styled with fur vests over leather trenches and a slip dress underneath, or a Mongolian-fur vest with a chunky alpaca pullover.
"Mix up the texture," Kors said backstage before the show. "Mohair, tweed, plaid, faux and real fur, satin and lace. "
But if a shopper had to choose just one thing, he'd go with a coat. "The coats and outerwear this season are outrageous."
Michael Kors always starts his shows with a couple and this time they were in his-and-her red-check outfits. He wore a tartan plaid coat and checkered trousers, she had on a blanket coat with fringe in the large-square pattern known as buffalo check, plus a cashmere tweed sweater and cashmere short shorts.
Their wardrobe, which also included a sexy, luxe glove-leather trenchcoat for her, and suede utility pants for him, was all about "sporty American glamour," Kors explained.
"I thought about the `30s and those glamorous Hollywood couples _ the Clark Gables and Carole Lombards," he said in an interview backstage.
The Kors woman might wear a black wool sleeveless peacoat over a black beaded lace dress, or a camel-colored plaid mohair coat with a mohair sweater and plaid cropped pants.
Also shown were a black capelet jacket (a short cape) and pencil skirt, made of soft double-face cashgora (a mix of cashmere and angora), and a black-and-ivory mohair dress with a feather skirt.
Men's clothes were simpler, heavy on vercoats and slim, slightly short pants.
Ever the Midwestern woman, Nanette Lepore sent a colorful but practical collection down the runway.
The Ohio native used deep, saturated reds, purples, blues and greens _ no black _ in her separates, prints and footwear. The line was modest too, no plunging necklines or slits to the thigh.
"The sort of overt sexiness of the last couple of years is gone and it's back to a more sort of modest or demure silhouette," Lepore said backstage. "Which I think is a great way for a woman to feel sexy because I don't think it's always about skin."
Lepore put pockets in her dresses and some models wore flats and loafers, not something often seen on the runway. The shoes were shiny jewel-toned blue, gold and pink. She used gold lame for a bouncy dress and jacket. The prints were intricate, inspired by tarot cards and gems.
Gilles Mendel's new collection moved seamlessly between the expertly crafted fur he is famous for and the goddess red-carpet gowns that are exposing his brand J. Mendel to a larger audience.
An ivory chiffon-embroidered gown with tulle insets and a fully pleated bottom seemed ready for the Oscars.
Mendel favored a light, feminine touch that fashion insiders haven't seen all that much in the first seven days of seasonal previews for fall. There was a long, graceful shape to the white cashmere coat with a white fox collar worn with a pleated chiffon blouse and wide-leg pants, and he put a fresh spin on the leather look that's been all over, using textured alligator, often paired with fur.
Those in attendance included Kelly Osbourne and Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen.
The audience was mesmerized by the Marchesa collection, partly because they wondered how the models could move in the elaborate creations shown by designers Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig.
The first outfit was a cream-colored, hand-embroidered coat with mermaid-hem pleated tulle gown. From there, they moved into even more elaborate designs, including a champagne-colored gown with feathers that seems to float between the layers of tulle and another strapless feathered dress that looked as if it floated in with the clouds.
The finale featured red embroidery on an otherwise sheer bodice with a high neck and a hand-draped taffeta ballskirt.
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Associated Press Writer Caryn Rousseau contributed to this report.