As designers presented their fall 2011 collections last week in New York during Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, it was clear they have high hopes for the economy. It was back to luxe and away from the basics.
Tadashi Shoji, Carmen Marc Valvo, Badgley Mischka and Monique Lhuillier were among designers who showed stunning evening gowns and ensembles for after 5.
Carolina Herrera's evening separates also were elegant, but she applied the Herrera touch once again to ladylike suits and dresses.
Several collections gave a nod to the silhouettes and colors of the '60s and '70s. And some, Tory Burch for example, themed much of their collections to that era. Baby boomers in the audience related to the gauchos in Burch's collection. Diane Von Furstenberg also showed gauchos for next fall.
Here are some of the other looks that were seen in several collections:
Many designers went for bright hues, with Betsey Johnson leading the pack.
Favorites for fall include deep teal, bamboo, cedar green, midnight blue, camel and a variety of browns, as well as gray shades, from dove to charcoal.
Both faux and real, fur coats were popular on the runways, as were fur trims such as collars.
Mix of patterns
Don't be surprised to find up to five prints in one ensemble. Sometimes the pattern mix is subtle, such as two sizes of checks, but some designers combined splashy prints with subtle ones and everything in between.
Mix of textures
Chunky knits with nubby tweeds, smooth leather with lace and filmy silks with tweeds are a few examples of what you can expect to see this fall.
Chunks of color appeared in some collections such as Jill Stuart's dresses and several pieces from Narciso Rodriguez. But they weren't all bright hues. Several designers used the always-right black and white combination, as in Yeohlee's white jacket with black patch pockets and trim.
Vivid reds jumped off the runway in many collections. Adrienne Vittadini sent veteran model Carol Alt down the runway in a red sheath.
Pant legs of every width
Full to narrow pants and some flares were in evidence, sometimes in the same collection. That was the case with Carolina Herrera. And very wide drapey pants from Luca Luca had luxurious appeal. Jumpsuits, another look that harkens to the '70s, also showed up in a few collections.
In many collections, sheer black hosiery replaced the ubiquitous black tights of this year. Textured and patterned tights were also worn, many times as an element of the mixed-patterns look.
Not surprisingly, some designers stuck with the mid-thigh skirt length, but the options of hems from just below the knee and some to mid-calf and longer were plentiful. Designers such as Nanette Lepore showed every hem length possible, from thigh-high to ankle length.
Prints of all kinds
From feminine floral prints to fabric that looked like it was painted with a very wide brush, prints were everywhere.
Accent on sleeves
So many fall shows in the past have featured sleeveless looks, but that was less the case for fall 2011. Sleeves are getting attention with lace, leather and fur trims, along with other interesting details.
DKNY, Max Azria and Tommy Hilfiger all featured fabrics and styles inspired by their menswear collections.
Accordion pleats showed up in several collections, including Vera Wang's. Bebe, a much less expensive line than Wang, featured flirty, short accordion-pleated skirts.
You won't have to be a superhero to wear a cape next fall. Several collections had them, including Adrienne Vittadini, Nanette Lepore and Luca Luca.
Boots will return next fall, especially ankle boots, many with tall wedge heels.
Leather gloves in black, neutrals and vivid colors such as red, pink and mustard will be worn for both day and evening.