Feb 17, 2015
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Ahead of Oscars, red carpet chic at New York Fashion Week

Feb 17, 2015

New York Fashion Week got a slice of pre-Oscars, red carpet glamour Tuesday with minimal chic from Vera Wang and Spanish sophistication from Duchess of Cambridge favorite Jenny Packham.

In a snowy New York, the American designer showcased a modern twist on Savile Row tailoring for next winter, offering daywear alongside the sophisticated evening dresses for which she is perhaps most famous.

Vera Wang Mercedes-Benz New York Fashion Week | Photo:PixelFormula

"I thought there was a real need for purity, because I have seen so many red carpet dresses lately. I really wanted to go our own way," she told AFP backstage.

"I think it takes a lot of courage to be minimal today."

She laughed when asked whether she could provide any hints ahead of Sunday's Oscars in Los Angeles, when designers fall over themselves to dress Academy Award nominees -- and, better still, the winners.

"We are trying," she says. "You never know!"

Her inspiration was tailoring and menswear, she said.

"A lot of work went to the inside of the clothes that you don't see on the runway," she said. The collection was "based a little bit on Savile Row, but then worn not the Savile Row way. Worn looser, edgier and cooler."

Wang incorporated a lot of sportswear -- a key trend on the New York runway this season -- and played with proportions to make new shapes. Despite splashes of white, the collection was overwhelmingly black.

She summed it up as "very sporty and boyish, tomboyish but still female."

- Crystals and pearls -

Across town in Greenwich Village, Packham showcased sophisticated evening wear inspired by the paintings of 19th century Spanish artist Raimundo de Madrazo y Garreta.

The British designer said she was captivated by his portraits of beautiful, fashionable society women -- the clientele she has made a career out of dressing.

She presented slinky cocktail dresses and billowing evening gowns, encrusted with beads, feathers and sequins. Trousers and jumpsuits were tailored, and breathtaking jackets were made out of crystals and pearls.

Her dresses, which have been worn by Hollywood A-list actresses such as Oscar winners Charlize Theron and Kate Winslet, came in many hues -- navy, green, black and cocoa, accented with bursts of red and orange.

Other highlights on day six of Fashion Week came from affordable luxury brand Tory Burch, who sits atop a reportedly more than $3 billion empire, and mainstream brand J.Crew -- beloved by First Lady Michelle Obama.

Burch presented a delicate, feminine collection using fabrics that mimicked rugs and tapestries, and which was inspired by Morocco's historic city of Marrakech and London's Chelsea in the 1960s and early 1970s.

"How to interpret that and make it modern, was the challenge," the American designer told AFP.

The palette was simple and alluring in white, olive, blue, gray and burgundy. Keeping to her brand of affordable luxury, there was little of the fur that has characterized more extravagant collections this season.

There were silk and crepe de chine blouses and silk georgette dresses, cut on the bias and embellished with sequins, gold rings or buttons, to sparkle in the light.

The US ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, took time out of her busy schedule ahead of a Security Council meeting on Ukraine to attend the J.Crew presentation and hob-nob with creative director Jenna Lyons.

"A lot of style that you see today, when we look at them, it might have been something that we would have done 15, 20 years ago," Lyons told AFP.

"But how does it look today? How do you make it feel playful, more fun and more modern?"

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