NEW YORK (AP) — Michael Kors put plus-size model Ashley Graham and a live orchestra on his runway, and Narciso Rodriguez presented what he called a "no shenanigans" collection — just sleek, impeccable tailoring on clothes constructed to last a lifetime.
Some of the latest highlights at New York Fashion Week:
PLUS-SIZED MODEL ASHLEY GRAHAM STRUTS THE KORS RUNWAY
To the accompaniment of a live orchestra, Michael Kors presented a diverse runway that included plus-sized model Ashley Graham rocking a charcoal ribbed tank dress with a silver fox shrug, and 43-year-old supermodels Amber Valletta and Carolyn Murphy.
"Since the very beginning, I have always thought that my job really ... is dressing a huge variety of people of all ages, different body types, different heights, different ethnicities," Kors said backstage, just before launching is 36th fall collection. "And (in this show) we have women and men from their teens to their 40s. We have people who are petite, we have people who are curvy, we have people who are tomboys ... Honestly is my job is to make everyone look the best they can look."
Kors' collection, which drew Blake Lively, Amanda Peet and Vogue editor Anna Wintour, among others, focused on sensuality this season.
"I really kept thinking about the dichotomy that I think people want to feel strong and at the same time when you're feeling strong and powerful you still want to be sexy, but I don't like the idea of overt sexy," he said. "So we're really thinking about sensuality the season. And how do we express that particularly in a way that I think is great for the city streets?"
What Kors came up with, he said, was "a sneaky kind of sexiness." Makeup, for example, was minimal.
"There's not a miniskirt in sight," he added. "Long sleeves for the most part. But, at the same time, when you walk things unwrap, fringe flies."
The collection was heavy on comfy sweaters, camel coats, and colorful furs. But there was also a decent dose of evening glam: A number of items were embedded with crystals, providing their own light source as they traveled down the runway.
Celebrity models included Bella Hadid, in a slate-leopard wrap dress, and Kendall Jenner, closing the show in a decidedly glamorous strapless, black fringed dress with black sequin embroidery. Valletta wore a black crepe dress with black and silver embroidery.
A 20-piece orchestra was directed by fashion show sound veteran Michel Gaubert.
"In my head I guess I'm a bit of a Broadway impresario," Kors said. "I always say that I'd love to produce a Broadway show and I would. I think in so much of today's world, people don't experience the idea of anything live anymore."
— Nicole Evatt and Jocelyn Noveck
RALPH LAUREN'S OASIS GETAWAY
Lauren transformed his Madison Avenue flagship store into an oasis of orchid-adorned walls and treated guests to their scent and the piped-in tweets of birds for a serene show of burnished gold and desert tones that had his models wending their way down a grand staircase through two floors, the crowd tucked away on cozy white couches and chairs.
The designer said in a statement that he was inspired by a "nomadic spirit, an exotic sophistication" contrasting classic shapes with rustic textures. Lauren included gowns and wide-leg trousers of shimmering gold and statement necklaces to match.
Other looks included lame gowns that shimmered in metallic prints meant to recall tapestry. He paired some classic silhouettes with python, including towering shoes, and with leopard-printed hair calf.
Last September, Lauren offered his collection for immediate purchase and will do so again this time around come Thursday on Madison Avenue, floral walls in place, complete with faux butterflies with wings that move.
NO SHENANIGANS FOR NARCISO RODRIGUEZ
If you're looking for fuss and noise in your fashion, don't go see Narciso Rodriguez.
Rodriguez presented a sleek, disciplined and beautifully tailored collection Tuesday evening, thrilling fashion fans who might be wearying from some of the louder spectacles of Fashion Week, now in its closing days.
And while some designers sent overt messages about the nation's political and social turmoil — slogans on T-shirts, for example — Rodriguez was happy to let his craftsmanship do the talking. "No shenanigans anywhere," he said, summing up his collection.
"I think there's so much fashion today and there's so much theater and that's great," he said in a backstage interview. "But I guess what I am trying to say is that the climate we're experiencing has made me focus on things that are pragmatic and real and beautifully made."
Standout garments included dresses and tops with ladder-like cutouts in front, adding a bit of spice to the impeccably tailored look. There were cropped pants, a few filmy black tops, and shimmering paillette dresses. There were sleek cashmere or wool coats in black, white, gray and copper, and a loosely fitting silk dress that looked impossibly soft.
"I think everything that happens in the world affects any creator, any filmmaker, everyone, and this is certainly a time where I was focusing on creating things that women were going to be wearing in the future," Rodriguez said. "And hopefully getting rid of any of the nonsense."
He said he hoped to be making garments that women would keep forever in their closets.
"I think we have the capability ... to create things that empower people — not because they're wearing huge shoulder pads, or impractical things, or costumes, but you can make people feel really good by giving them something that they'll treasure for their entire life, and they'll want to keep in their wardrobe forever and hopefully pass it on to their daughter," he said.
Front-row guests included the newly arrived Calvin Klein designer Raf Simons, and actress Sarah Jessica Parker.
— Jocelyn Noveck
DELPOZO IS TRUE TO THE BRAND WITH STRUCTURE
Delpozo's craftsmanship on the runway was heavy on architectural dresses, voluminous skirts, curved-pleat peg-leg trousers and inflated sleeves.
At Pier 59 Studios on the West Side Highway, couturelike silhouettes seemed to float away in geometric designs under the sounds of xylophones and drums played by musicians on site.
Backstage, creative director Josep Font said his fall-winter collection was inspired by Swiss sculptor Max Bill and Hungarian painter Jozsef Rippl-Ronai.
"The colors Rippl-Ronai uses and his subtle way of painting impacted me," he said. "I think this collection is maybe a bit tougher than previous ones, with darker colors. More wintry."
The Spaniard dressed some of his models in sweaters that extended into tight-fitting head coverings. They also wore Delpozo's usual contrasting fabrics, which include chiffons, feather-light silks, jacquards and structured satins.
"The design is very complicated. These are clothes that are apparently simple but there's a lot of work behind them," Font said.
BIBHU MOHAPATRA INSPIRED BY 'VENUS IN FUR'
The Indian-born, New York-based designer, with pal Salman Rushdie on his front row, spoke on the runway to a strong trend for the season: complicated, often large and usually interesting sleeves.
His overall inspiration: The character Wanda from the two-person David Ives play "Venus in Fur," in a celebration of women's empowerment and independence.
Always elegant, some of his looks included mismatched sleeves, one a solid color and the other with black embellishment carried over into the rest of one dress, for instance. Another included puffs of emerald green at the shoulders and was worn with fur down the arms.
Some of Mohapatra's necks were equally intriguing. A halter anchored around the neck and on one side, for example.
He worked in beading and bold color, but included some black looks and other neutrals, along with some tulle trains. A bugle-beaded embroidered black silk twill dress was worn over a beaded white organza top. One wine silk velvet and chiffon gown had a pleated train.
There was something for the sparkly party girl in all-around, multicolored embellished in a striped designs.
We've seen some politics on the runway this season. Where does Mohapatra stand?
"Absolutely. It's there," he said. "You know I'm an immigrant, I'm a minority and this is my country, so for me and the people that I love and work with, live with and are friends with, people I know, I am for them. And if they're fighting, their fight is my fight and in whatever way I can I will join that force. I will because we all have our individual characteristics, our heritage and we all need to come to terms with that, celebrate it and make more of it and that's how we are defined."
—Leanne Italie and Nicole Evatt