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Vivienne Tam's '20s flappers, Princess Leia chic

The fall 2011 collection of designer Vivienne Tam

The fall 2011 collection of designer Vivienne Tam is modeled during Fashion Week in New York, Saturday, Feb. 12, 2011. (AP Photo/Richard Drew) Photo Credit: AP Photo/Richard Drew

Vivenne Tam found inspiration in the elaborate costumes of Kun opera, a 600-year-old art form in China "as remarkable today as it was in its ancient origins," she explained in her program notes.

She transformed the look of opera capes into modern coats and jackets with futuristic swooping shoulders -- consider it Princess Leia chic (and a difficult sell, we're thinking, in a tough economy where consumers are sticking to more classic looks).

Embroidered dragons, a traditional motif, added texture to light silk blouses. And a series of slinky, dropped-waist flapper dresses, some with crocheted panels and swingy fringe, called to mind the 1920s in an inventive, not overly costumey, way.  All of this was accomplished in mostly black or gray, with occasional pops of iridescent red.

But the biggest head-scratcher of the night had to be what was in her little gift bags --attendees received a "double happiness" square by Vivienne Tam, a miniature square credit-card reader that allows anyone to accept credit card payments (should you have a business or some other need to do so) simply by plugging the reader into your phone or iPad. Tam collaborated on this bit of chic tech with Twitter creator Jack Dorsey.  Tam says she hopes it will "inspire woman to start or grow businesses they already have." 

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