NEW YORK (AP) — The Associated Press is all over New York Fashion Week, from the runway designs to the celebrity-filled front rows. Here are some recent highlights:
A LITTLE LEATHER, AT OSCAR DE LA RENTA
Longtime devotees of Oscar de la Renta were in for a little surprise at the label's runway show Tuesday evening: a leather dress, in a cool shade of raspberry.
What? Leather dresses at de la Renta? Peter Copping, only about a year into his job as the late fashion icon's hand-picked successor, was trying something different.
"It was something new to put into an Oscar de la Renta show," Copping said in a backstage interview. "I think the silhouettes felt very Oscar in some ways, fitted through the waist and then going into a bell skirt. But the material took it somewhere else."
Change is important — but in small steps, the designer said.
"I'm very respectful of the legacy of the house but you have to challenge it as well, it can't just stand still," Copping said. "You need to move forward. But it's very important to do it gradually, step by step."
Copping was also going for a juxtaposition of old and new. And when we say old, we mean 18th-century old. He went searching through a historical archive of fabrics in upstate New York.
"I was really looking at old 18th-century fabrics like tapestries," he said. "Then we brought them back and scanned them into the computer, played with the scale, changed the colors ... and then found some interesting fabric bases, to add some modern touches."
Speaking of modern, Copping said he was also influenced by the contemporary artist Jeff Koons, who displayed his famous balloon animals at the Chateau de Versailles in 2008. That's the sort of contrast Copping was looking for with a shiny silver sequined bodice paired with a traditional timeless skirt, for example.
And that leather dress? It was paired with a brocade "Antoinette" pump. How's that for mixing old and new?
COACH GOES FOR A MAKEOVER
Coach is scrapping its Middle American image.
The leather goods brand, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, grabbed the fashion crowd's attention Tuesday with its luxury collection called Coach 1941. It marked the second runway show for the high-end line, which made its debut in stores this month.
This time, its executive creative director Stuart Vevers reimagined Americana looks, for example mixing team sport uniforms with feminine touches like ruffles.
There were oversized varsity jackets paired with floral dresses or ruffled blouses. The collection also highlighted lots of shearling coats or vests shown with leather or floral skirts. There were all types of handbags from shoulder strap versions to satchels.
"What really appealed to me was the idea of this juxtaposition between something quite tough and then a softness," said Vevers, interviewed backstage. "There is a certain nostalgia about a varsity jacket and these very nostalgic dresses with the frills, very feminine."
Vevers acknowledged it's not easy to reinvent a label.
"Changing someone's perception of a brand is a feat," he said, but he added: "People have a fun nostalgic place for Coach. "
Among the front-row guests was Riley Keough, actress and granddaughter of Elvis Presley.
"I love what he's doing with Coach. It's very much my vibe," said Keough, wearing a floral-printed dress from Coach 1941's spring collection. 'It's a lot cooler now, and younger."
RODARTE CHANNELS 'THE GODFATHER'
When Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte dream up an idea for a collection, they don't, as some designers do, make picture boards and map out exactly how they're going to reference the idea in each garment.
"It's not specific references, really just a feeling," says Kate Mulleavy. "We tend to be fairly abstract."
For their new collection, which they showed Tuesday in a Chelsea gallery space, the designing sisters said they were inspired while visiting San Francisco to do a season based loosely on "The Godfather" movies.
"We were in this cafe that we used to go to and we remembered hearing that (Francis Ford) Coppola had written some of 'The Godfather' in the cafe. And we just had this idea that it would be interesting to do a collection inspired by that film, and at the same time about my experience of San Francisco, references like art nouveau, old posters from film noir, things like that."
As is often with the Mulleavys, the garments were heavy on lace, hugely intricate embroidery, and lots of mixing of fabrics. Colors were mostly black, white, and red (perhaps for blood?) There was a bride in all white with a delicate veil, too. That, Kate Mulleavy acknowledged, was indeed a specific "Godfather" reference.
Rodarte collections often touch heavily on themes of nature, and that was present here also. Long fur jackets, with horizontal stripes of bold color — one of them combined white, brown, red and yellow — were meant to echo moth wings, Mulleavy said.
"You know when you look at moths you're like, 'How can they come in so many amazing different colors?'" she said. "So we kind of just played with that." A number of the embroideries were based on birds and butterflies, as well, and jewelry focused heavily on flowers.
Among the front-row guests was actress Kirsten Dunst, who is working with the Mulleavys on an upcoming dramatic film written and directed by the sisters, called "Woodshock."
VERA WANG OFFERS STRENGTH AND DREAMY BEAUTY
In color and long, lithe structure, Vera Wang went for equal parts all-business armor and a 1920s dream, though armor might be too strong a word.
While looking to encourage a woman's strength, she said in a backstage interview it was the chest protection of fencers that she had on her mind in creating some of her tough new coats, jackets and long skirts. The soothing colors of Modigliani paintings moved her as well, in mustard, olive and plum, among other shades, as did the elongated shapes in the sculpture of Alberto Giacometti.
"It sort of started actually with fencing," she said. "I always loved the discipline and I loved the precision and the elegance and the line and the silhouette of fencers."
Wang was after such proportions in looks like a nude tulle column gown with a bib neck and panels of metallic sequins and crystals. And she was hoping to evoke a dream state looking back to the '20s and '30s in a backless camisole in a plum floral print and maxi robes of olive floral silk.
She carried the olives, soft gray and chartreuse into fur jackets with a patchwork effect.
"I really want to convey sort of otherworldly feeling, but the very gutsy, very strong woman," she said. "They are striding. They're cool. They're young. They're hip. They're not hiding themselves."
Hiding in plain sight on Wang's front row was a pink-haired Kylie Jenner, huge sunglasses in place.
—Leanne Italie and Nicole Evatt