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New York Fashion Week brings up bright colors and bursts of gold

The spring 2008 collections shown at New York Fashion Week were full of optimism, bright colors and bursts of gold. Donna Karan showed a graffiti print in hot pink for her DKNY line on Sunday, while Michael Kors took on a disco theme.

Throughout the week, there's been hardly a hint of black, if you ignore the audience.

Kors' collection featured sunny gold, as did those of Proenza Schouler and Ralph Lauren - the toast of one of the week's highlights, his 40th anniversary celebration on Saturday.

And if there wasn't enough celebrity-spotting at that black-tie event or in the runway's ront rows, Sunday marked the debut of Nicky Hilton's line, Nicholai. Sister Paris was notably absent.

New York Fashion Week lasts eight days, previewing the spring-summer looks of 100 or so designers.

MICHAEL KORS

An explosion of color rocked the tents with Michael Kors' spring collection.

For all the lovely dainty dresses that retailers, fashion editors and stylists have seen over the first half of Fashion Week, Kors offered the opposite in splashy and sunny clothes, ranging from a form-fitting rainbow color-blocked sweaterdress to a floral ruffle bikini in a print done in the spirit of the artist Seurat.

The audience, which included Jessica Simpson, got into the joyous spirit of the show when a glittery pink dress came down the runway to the soundtrack of "Xanadu."

He didn't forget, though, that his fans also depend on him for their daily dose of luxury. He delivered that with a gold brocade tunic and a black-crystal jersey jumpsuit with a halter top.

DKNY

Mix it up. That was the message Donna Karan conveyed as she presented her spring DKNY collection at her downtown studio.

Outfits alternated between crisp white tailored looks, including a coatdress with a portrait collar, and soft stretch cotton T-shirt styles. A navy-and-orange striped dress from the latter group would have been the perfect thing to wear on an Indian summer weekend day.

DKNY is Karan's more casual, contemporary line, and for this cool customer, there were the long, loose sundresses that are everywhere at New York Fashion Week.

Karan also continued with the color-blocking trend and embraced a bit of a peasant look with flowing bodices, off-the-shoulder necklines and bell sleeves.

NICHOLAI

To be taken seriously as a designer, Nicky Hilton had to show that she was not just another celebrity who wanted to see her name on a collection - despite the success of her handbag line in Japan and the sportswear collection she launched three years ago.

She showed she was serious Sunday night with her collection Nicholai (which is her real name). With her parents beaming from the front row, models pranced down the runway in outfits alternating between bourgeois - including a black silk cape over a white dress shirt paired with mini-shorts - and flirty, such as a black strapless dress wrapped in tulle.

She mixed it up with bandeau bikinis, summer dresses in bright colors, such as tangerine and fuschia, and silk jersey evening gowns.

Big sister Paris was not at the show. The collection, her father said, was all Nicky.

NARCISO RODRIGUEZ

Narciso Rodriguez can have a soft touch when he wants to.

The master of structured garments presented a breezy and feminine spring collection Sunday night for a New York Fashion Week audience that included actresses Rachel Weisz and Julianna Margulies. Yet the overall look was still completely Rodriguez.

A white dress with tie-dye sunbursts in pink and orange seemed downright funky for this designer, but a closer examination showed all the seams and careful proportion that are his signature. Same goes for a sexy nude-colored, tank-strap sheath dress sprayed with black beads, and a dark purple slipdress under a sheer black overlay that had a lingerie feel.

Some of Rodriguez's fans demand his architectural suits and he did deliver those, too - mostly pantsuits. Jackets had asymmetrical fronts and peplums at the hip, paired with slim ankle-length trousers.

DIANE VON FURSTENBERG

Diane von Furstenberg used her upcoming spring-summer collection as an excuse to escape from everything she's known for.

The wrap dress that is her hallmark was barely visible on the runway, and the best one that was there - a shiny shantung dress done in safari style - was almost unrecognizable without von Furstenberg's reliable jersey fabric.

She also did fewer workday ensembles, instead concentrating on outfits for a summer vacation to a remote locale, or at least for hanging out poolside. Safari-inspired looks dominated, with a white linen suit looking particularly fresh. However, there also were a fair share of loose, airy dresses in tropical floral prints best pictured over a swimsuit.

DEREK LAM

Sometimes what you don't see is the sexiest thing at a fashion show. Derek Lam unveiled his spring collection with models wearing black pantyhose with seams down the back.

It's probably the first time pantyhose - not tights - have been on a New York Fashion Week runway in years. But the dark covered leg added a bit of sultry mystery to all the satin, sirenlike looks.

Lam seems to like a short hemline, turning out some of the tiniest skirts and shorts of the season. He balanced them well, though, with subtle colors and looser shapes on top; a leopard-print, shirt-style minidress was a great example.

He also offered a few daytime outfits that would meet office dress codes, including a navy short-sleeve safari jacket that looked smart with the billowy, blousoned sleeves of a gray spot-print blouse peeking out.

PHILLIP LIM

A pearl-embellished, nude-colored minidress told the whole story at the Phillip Lim fashion show.

"He is such a master of the great dress that you can wear in the summer and wear all summer," said Linda Wells, editor in chief of Allure.

The fashion industry considers Lim a top up-and-comer. He owes some of his success to creating outfits that go from day to night, offering affordable prices - by designer standards - and by adding a touch of embellishment to almost everything.

Some of those decorated items in the new collection were a sand-colored silk dolman-sleeve top with macrame around the neck, a black cocktail dress with silk dupioni fringe around the neckline and wide back opening, and a crystal-covered cheetah patchwork dress.

PETER SOM

Peter Som turned out a collection of classic American sportswear, offering chic daytime dresses with full skirts, metallic eveningwear and even tweed.

The tweed, though, looked appropriately light for spring, not like its cozy fall cousin. It was a mix of bright colors that he called "pixel," and the best look of the group was actually a silk chiffon dress with horizontal pleats on the top and vertical ones on the bottom.

Som also had a group of blush pink and ice blue outfits; highlights were a sparkling stadium coat with the pink used for stripes at the hem and a dress with sheer fabric pleats covering a metallic pink sheath.

Som recently was named the creative director for legendary design house Bill Blass, which made its name with sophisticated sportswear.

ALICE TEMPERLEY

The runway turned into a boardwalk at Alice Temperley's fashion show Saturday, inspired by the French seaside and the freedoms women enjoyed during the 1920s.

There was a lightness to the clothes that captured a playful spirit for an audience that included Demi Moore, Christy Turlington and Molly Sims. Many daytime dresses had tiered skirts, and one particularly nice dress was a white-and-black feather print with a loose braided halter.

For evening, Temperley offered a coral-colored gown with all-over pintucks, including a diamond pattern on the bodice, a black-and-white knit dress with a scalloped hem, and a white strapless dress with a black scroll pattern on top and long black stripes on bottom.

But what's up with the rompers - sort of short jumpsuits? Not to pick on Temperley - hers were no better nor worse than the dozen or so others that have been spotted on the runways.

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