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Fashion Week: Rags to riches on the runways

A model wears creations by designer Ralph Lauren

A model wears creations by designer Ralph Lauren during the Spring/Summer 2010 collections Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week on September 17, 2009 in New York. AFP PHOTO/Emmanuel Dunand (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images) Photo Credit: Getty/EMMANUEL DUNAND

Our trying economic times were on Ralph Lauren's mind with his ode to the American worker (the kind who wear crystal-bedecked stilettos with their worn jeans). Economics of a different sort at Norma Kamali, who showed her high-end line along with her Wal-Mart clothes. Meanwhile, at Calvin, hot, hot clothes for when the good life returns.

Calvin Klein

Some will like it hot (actually, you'll love it) next spring in Francisco Costa's airy collection of feather-light dresses and gorgeous jackets (only one pair of pants, in airy silk chiffon). The soundtrack crackled intentionally with static (as in heat) and models were high-glossed to appear sweaty. The story here was shape and texture. Forgiving dresses hung off the body, a pleat jutting from a hip, the best sculpted pleating of the week and much crinkled fabric - buh-bye iron. And the shoes, hallelujah - call 'em "flatforms" - easy, flat wedges to make moving in the heat wave effortless.

- Anne Bratskeir

Marchesa

This presentation was tough on models, who perched stock-still on tall cubes in uber-high heels. Wranglers circled, offering sustenance - a sip of water through a straw, a champagne flute full of M&Ms - to make sure nobody keeled over. Designer Georgina Chapman had Madame Butterfly on the brain (obi belts, origami necklines), but we kept seeing flowers (a lilac ombre tulle dress exploded with organza petals; a black strapless sported a satin lily corsage). The ultimate - a nude silk gown with hand-painted blossoms and the painted stockings, which looked like glorious tattoos up the legs.

- Joseph V. Amodio

Ralph Lauren

"The resilient spirit of America" played out on Lauren's optimistic runway, with farmer, cowboy and prairie women wearing a heavy dose of denim - weathered jeans, overalls, blue work shirts and little floral "rural" dresses. The blue-centric show moved from Depression-era faded jean looks (some tattered) complete with newsboy caps - though those rhinestone stilettos were likely not de rigueur in the day - to sleeker, menswear-inspired suitings. Glamorous evening interpretations included a blue lamé gown with overall straps (Janet Jackson, front and center, beamed), worn jeans topped by a lacy blue tunic, and so kitsch and cool, a sparkling pair of blue stretch denim beaded pants - shredded to the max.

- Anne Bratskeir

Anna Sui

Step right up to Anna Sui's circus under the big top at Bryant Park, where spring colors and patterns and smiling models delivered a "be happy" message. Sui worked the circus theme with braided majorette jackets and capelets, ringmaster suits in quirky plaids and a cheery circus border print, but nothing was clowny. Instead, Sui's hipsters will groove on her '60s-style mixes - Fair Isle sweaters, vests with chains, little dresses with big sunflower prints and even a fancy royal-blue party dress for when the circus is in town.

- Anne Bratskeir

Peter Som

"Madcap happy" - that's how Som describes his cheery collection. Nothing too obscenely short or absurdly tight here. There's a '40s down-by-the-boardwalk feel to pieces that are layered and electric (most glisten, thanks to metallic threads), and pattern mixes - stripes, Japanese woodcuts, a fireworks print and more. Killer: a digital leopard print on a steel-toned coat, and a field jacket made of silver lambskin. - Joseph V. Amodio

Norma Kamali

Leave it to Kamali. She announced the launch of a free iPhone shopping app and a new line now sold only on eBay. "We went to eBay school for three months," she said at a presentation at the downtown Apple store. Outside on the drizzly street, models shivered under umbrellas, wearing pieces from her regular OMO store line (sheer rain-slicker-like ruched numbers), Wal-Mart line (red, red, red) and eBay group (lots of form-fitting thick gray jersey, priced at $250 or less).

- Joseph V. Amodio

Doo.Ri

Simple. Serene. That's what designer Doo- Ri Chung does best, and there were several great examples of her skill. Like the very first dress down the runway - an opal (aka pale gray) quilted silk dress with fabric gently scooched over one shoulder - minimal but striking. A few struck a little less (one dress with a fluff of hankies over the tummy; a navy blazer with crushed-in-my-closet lapels). But who can resist silver sequined panels on the side of a tulle sheath, accentuating the curve of a waist?

- Joseph V. Amodio

GOOD AS GOLD

The lucky American Express cardmembers who snagged tix pow-wowed with Phillip Lim and Vogue's André Leon Talley Thursday night to discuss Lim's line and watch a live, private encore of his runway show. The big question: Would André don that grand pope's robe he wore to Chado Ralph Rucci? Nah . . . not twice in one week!

GET FRAMED

DSquared2's Dean and Dan Caten held a star-studded par-tay for their new eyewear collection (out in October). Did Mary J. Blige, Hilary Duff, Estelle, and Ciara (among others) show up for the glasses? Or the chance to arrive in a new Maserati Quattroporte S? (Maserati provided VIP transport.)

BAND BATTLE

Instead of casting models for the first John Varvatos USA ad campaign, the designer held a Battle of the Bands at his downtown shop (formerly CBGB). The winners: Reckless Sons, a rocked-out foursome. Chace Crawford and Dennis Quaid cheered them on.

- Joseph V. Amodio

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