NEW YORK (AP) — The Associated Press is all over New York Fashion Week, from the runways to celebrities as eight days of spring previews opened Thursday.
KANYE POPS IN ON BROTHER VELLIES
The small Brother Vellies got a visit from the big Kanye West.
"I'm just here to support," he said Thursday before rushing off.
What he left behind was a collection of standout sandals in leather and adorned with beads and fur, and handbags made of materials sourced throughout Africa and created by artisans there, said Aurora James, the company's founder and creative director.
Bags were created in South Africa using indigenous springbok, water buffalo and hardware made of hand-carved horn. Beadwork for sandals was done in the Kibera district of Kenya by women, some single mothers working from home as they care for their children. Much of the leather was processed at a tannery in Ethiopia.
Women in Burkina Faso and Mali wove fabrics, and other elements from this nearly 3-year-old company were sourced Nigeria and Botswana, James said.
James, for the first time, has partnered with the United Nations Ethical Fashion Initiative, offering support for her effort to boost skills training and job creation in Africa.
While describing her shoes and bags this season as "post-hippy minimalism," James found inspiration from the musical Lijadu sisters of Nigeria — and women in general.
"On our, women are strong enough to move mountains," James said. "In numbers, women can collectively change the universe."
THE SERENITY OF A JAPANESE GARDEN, AT TADASHI SHOJI
It was humid, sweaty AND rainy outside — typical crummy Fashion Week weather — but inside the Tadashi Shoji show, it was a cool, serene Japanese garden.
In both his decor and his designs, the designer paid homage to his birth country's culture and tradition, presenting a show inspired by its gardens, its traditional robes, and its artwork.
Models emerged from under an archway covered with deep pink hanging orchids. They wore filmy, loose, flowing gowns with delicate floral embroidery. Like flowers and plants growing on an arbor, many garments had an embroidered trellis effect. A few had a traditional Japanese obi, or sash. The colors themselves recalled flower petals or leaves: Rose, ivory, lavender, green.
Highlights included a filmy evening-blue wisteria motif tulle dress, both in a midi length and in a full-length gown, and an ivory floor-length kimono coat, embroidered with a peony motif and worn over a matching sleeveless top and a floor-length tulle skirt.
"The faint scent of a fresh rain still lingers in the air," the designer wrote in his show notes. "Meandering down a moss worn pebbled path, the serenity of a Japanese garden beckons us with the fragrance of blooming nostalgia." Heading back outside into the humid air of midtown Manhattan, one could still dream.
BCBG MAX AZRIA CHANNELS CALIFORNIA SUN
Husband-wife design team Lubov and Max Azria brought the West Coast sun to a dreary New York day as they kicked off Fashion Week on Thursday with a beachy, casual collection.
"California was our first impulse," said Azria before the show in midtown Manhattan. "The beach and the sun and the weather, the good weather."
The bohemian line included flowing floral frocks layered with tie-dye tees and tribal print vests topped by hipster bucket hats. Models looked comfy in loose-fitting palazzo pants, long skirts and moccasin-inspired wedges complete with fringe. There were also cozy pullovers, embroidered ponchos and slouchy leg warmers — just in case the breeze picks up at the beach.
"It's very (sporty) day wear," said Azria. "It is more about the fiesta of the fashion."
LAUREN CONRAD GOES GIRLY
Reality star-turned-designer Lauren Conrad knew she would have to earn her place in the fashion industry.
"I think anybody who's enters into an industry, and they're the new kid on the block, you've got to prove yourself. So yeah, I think that you got to work hard to get there," said Conrad, a former "Laguna Beach" star.
Conrad presented her limited edition line, LC Lauren Conrad Runway Collection for Kohl's, at her first runway show for the store Wednesday night in New York.
"When we started designing this line, we knew it was going to be a runway collection, so we really wanted to create this whole experience," she said. "Obviously, the clothes were the main focus, but we were also keeping in mind what everything else was going to look like so it would all come together really nicely. We wanted it to be a woodlands, romantic feel."
The feminine and romantic collection featured frilly details, muted tones and pastels. There was a white, lace romper with a delicate, scalloped V-neck and a flowing tulle ball gown with pink, floral appliques.
The front row included Chrissy Teigen, Olivia Culpa and Ashley Tisdale.
Conrad is best known for appearing on her MTV reality show and its spin-off "The Hills." She's since written books, designed clothing lines and runs a lifestyle brand.
JESSICA SIMPSON CELEBRATES 10 YEARS IN FASHION
As Fashion Week kicked off, singer and designer Jessica Simpson celebrated the 10th anniversary of her clothing brand in Central Park on Wednesday.
"I am blessed that I am here and that God has given me a talent to succeed," she said.
Celebrity chef Martha Stewart, who attended the event, praised Simpson's latest collection, which rolls out this month.
"I think Jessica is on the right track right now," Stewart said. "It's more earthy, more girly, more approachable."
Besides her work in fashion, Simpson said she is about to return to singing.
"I have been having babies for the past couple years, so it's exciting to get back into the music industry, and I think that it will only make the fashion industry that I am working in even better," she said.
—Bastien Inzaurralde ___
TARGET BRINGS VOGUE IMAGES TO LIFE
Target struck a fun pose Wednesday night when the retailer threw a party that brought to life Vogue's iconic images it reimagined for the fashion bible's September issue.
Guests could ride on a carousel or check out some of the fashions like belted plaid jackets, black-and-white checkered pumps and a fur head wrap that Target created and were inspired from looks in Vogue dating back to the 1920s. One scene: a model riding on the carousel wearing a long blue gown that Target made out of curtains. Fans can also use the Shazam app to explore the original image or buy the item featured in the 21-page insert in Vogue.
The collaboration is happening at a time when Target is reclaiming its cheap chic status.
"To do something like this at this moment of our transformation signals culturally that Target's mojo is back," says Target's chief marketing officer Jeff Jones.