By Elizabeth Barber
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Like girls, women of all ages just want to have fun, say designers at New York Fashion Week, where many of the lines for the coming spring season combine a youthful playfulness with a sense of confidence that is unmistakably grown-up.
In a detour from years past, the looks featured at the bi-annual industry showcase, now under way in New York, reveal a sexiness in their simplicity and idiosyncratic sense of style, rather than in emphasizing clingy and short.
“This woman is having fun,” said designer Dennis Basso in describing the customer he had in mind for an eponymous collection that is big on bright details.
Basso's show included oversized floral prints on a sleek matching short-and-top set and a dress with a slice of pink and green fur that bounced on a model’s shoulder.
“The collection is powerful, and it’s built for a strong woman,” he said, citing women in cities from Havana to Buenos Aries as his influences. “She can wear a high neck and be very sexy.”
Max Azria of BCBG Max Azria also had a devil-may-care woman in mind when he designed a sunny collection that he described as “for a woman of any age.”
“She should feel very cool in the clothes,” said Azria.
The BCBG Max Azria models, all in patchwork bucket hats, wore West Coast-inspired layered looks that suggested a teenager who has rifled through her flower-child mother’s closet and emerged with a style all her own.
A collection for an even more exuberant woman was on the catwalk for Spanish brand Desigual. One model carried a selfie stick and filmed the front row as she walked, as if her character was determined to have her own good time.
“She’s a fun girl, an extroverted girl,” said Cristina Piccone, a 24-year-old model, of the kind of woman she channeled at the show, first in a rainbow-hued dress, then in a shredded-looking gown.
Tadashi Shoji's show was more languid than bubbly, but the fashion is still intended for a confident woman – someone who prizes her own comfort and time, the designer said.
His collection of dreamy gowns, inspired by memories of his childhood in Japan, suggested that dressing for evening could be as effortless as dressing for bedtime.
“This is for a busy woman,” said Shoji. “One zip. That’s it.”
For the kind of woman imagined on the week’s runways, there was no time, or need, for much makeup. Faces at many of the shows were kept almost naked, or at least appeared as such.
“It’s quite an effortless look,” said makeup artist Kabuki, speaking about the soft tone he sought to give models wearing Ohne Titel’s draped looks.
“It’s very simple; it’s very fresh,” he said, forgoing lip color and mascara on the models for just a flick of pink or blue eyeliner. “It’s almost like a vacation skin.”
Alexa Adams, one half of the designer duo behind the brand, described the collection as “feminine, but also a little sexy and slouchy.”
“You have to feel ebullient in what you’re wearing,” she said. “Especially in the spring, you want to enjoy yourself.”
(Reporting By Frank McGurty; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)