NEW YORK (AP) — The weather never seems to cooperate with New York Fashion Week. In February it's freezing and icy, and in September it seems to get even hotter than the summer that just ended. On this steamy day in Manhattan, Prabal Gurung took his guests on a cool Himalayan trek, evoking snow-capped mountains and mossy hills in his Nepal-inspired designs.
Alexander Wang packed a huge crowd into a pier along the Hudson River, including A-list celebs like Nicki Minaj and Rihanna. Wang's spring collection was a whimsical deconstruction of the sneaker, in all its patterning and variety.
A night earlier, Lady Gaga had to stop singing to admonish a crowd that was being too noisy. And Gaga wasn't the only prominent singer to grace a Fashion Week event: Pharrell was there too, in his signature hat of course, leading a dozen models as he displayed his RAW for the Oceans spring-summer collection.
Among the highlights:
Some of the offerings at Prabal Gurung's show, intended to evoke a Himalayan trek, seemed to come straight from nature — for example, a strapless dress with a rhododendron print, ostrich feathers and hand-cut organza flowers on the skirt.
On the sportier side, there were mountain jackets and expedition vests; on the daintier side, there were silky ruffled dresses. As for colors, Gurung looked to mirror the changing Himalayan sky, from dawn to sunset.
"Up in the mountains are colors that you don't even know or see 'til you go up there," said Gurung, who was born and raised in Nepal, in a backstage interview. "It's this beautiful amethyst to this coral, ivory, white and then teal and turquoise, and this opal. It's a visual feast. I wanted to bring it here."
Gurung has dressed a host of famous women, including first lady Michelle Obama, who's worn his designs a number of times, most recently last month at a White House dinner for African leaders. Kate Middleton also surprised the designer by wearing one of his dresses on an official trip to Asia.
Also notable in Gurung's new collection: His first complete footwear line under his own label. The multi-colored, strappy stilettos were inspired, he said, by artists he loves, including Georgia O'Keefe, Frida Kahlo, and Cindy Sherman.
HERVE LEGER BY MAX AZRIA
Herve Leger by Max Azria's samurai warrior woman battled on Saturday in fierce metal garter fittings, zippers and bright pops of pink and neon yellow that offset the more traditional tight bandage looks of the brand.
Not all of the metal detailing was a call to war. A blush rose strapless dress with kicky pleats at the knee offered a feminine touch to the spring collection at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. So did a lagoon-blue accented print for day dresses.
In addition to dresses, Azria showed shorts in the stretchy bandage style, along with woven skirts.
Herve Leger by Max Azria is a celebrity standard. In the front row: actresses Katie Cassidy and Sami Gayle, model Petra Nemcova and Laverne Cox from "Orange is the New Black."
Looking for inspiration for his spring collection, Alexander Wang had to search no further than, well, his feet.
"Sneakers!" Wang said when asked, in a backstage interview, what his overarching design theme had been.
Wang is always a big Fashion Week draw, and this show, held in a huge pier by the Hudson River, was no exception — the designer had Rihanna, Nicki Minaj and model Lauren Hutton all sitting together in the front row.
"He doesn't necessarily have a colorful, crazy style, but it's his own thing and he kind of coins his own sort of image and I love it," Minaj said.
But back to those sneakers: Wang said he takes no stock in trend reports he's seen saying there's a backlash against the sneaker.
"Sneakers for me have always been part of my uniform," Wang said. "It's something that's iconic in my generation — you know, a cult of sneakers."
Wang sought to display the variety in sneakers. Some outfits looked futuristic, like tight black or brightly colored mini-dresses with mesh cutouts and stripes around the waist that looked like the bottom part of a sneaker. Other ensembles — in gray knit, for example — looked subtler, more classic.
Rihanna, too, expressed admiration for Wang.
"He designs stuff that's cool, young, edgy, easy to wear," she said. "It's everything that I believe in."
—Jocelyn Noveck and Nicole Evatt
In Christian Siriano's New York Fashion Week show Saturday, beads appeared on sheer tops and equally sheer trousers, crystals embellished cocktail dresses, green brocades made up dresses short and long.
There was a touch of swishy raffia in white, a remnant of his bolder raffia looks in February.
Among his silhouettes were full skirts in dresses and gowns in metallic green and a tiered gown with a long train, the heavy beading carrying over into bags and shoes as he enters his seventh year selling footwear at Payless.
Celebrity guests included skier Lindsey Vonn and actresses Mena Suvari and Jada Pinkett Smith.
"We're playing with a lot of different transparent fabrics but sculpting them in a really beautiful way," Siriano said in a backstage interview.
LADY GAGA PERFORMS
When a loud crowd still chatted at the Plaza Hotel where Lady Gaga was performing jazz tunes Friday night, she stopped in the middle of her second song because of the noise.
Gaga sang at the New York Fashion Week party by Harper's Bazaar, where attendees included Donatella Versace, Liberty Ross, Brooke Shields and R&B singers Maxwell and Miguel, and Linda Evangelista, Shields and Gaga were honored.
The 28-year-old pop star sang songs from her collaborative jazz album with Tony Bennett called "Cheek to Cheek," to be released Sept. 23.
CARMEN MARC VALVO
It wasn't just any collection for Carmen Marc Valvo: It was his 25th anniversary collection, and he marked it by creating menswear.
At his Spring 2015 runway show Friday, Valvo went festive with swirls of sea blues on tight pants, teeny swim trunks and sheer shirts adorned with prints of large red flowers.
"I wanted something to just really rejuvenate my spirit," he said backstage.
But he didn't, and never will, forget the ladies of the red carpet, or those with a full schedule of charity lunches.
A silver cocktail dress with a wide black belt included large beaded flower applique on mesh that was covered just before it's too late at the pantyline.
RAW FOR THE OCEANS
Designers usually wait to show their faces after the models hit the runway. Not Pharrell.
The pop star led a dozen models Friday during New York Fashion Week for his RAW for the Oceans spring-summer collection.
He sported his signature hat and denim was a staple for the line, a collaboration with G-Star and Bionic Yarn, which produces fabrics made by fibers collected from recycled plastic bottles.
"It's very easy to forget we live on this planet," Pharrell told the crowd. "We don't want to just talk about it, but we actually wanted to put it in practice."
—Mesfin Fekadu and Gina Abdy
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