By SAMANTHA CRITCHELL
AP Fashion Writer
NEW YORK (AP) - The story of New York Fashion Week has been told in mostly black and white _ making it that much harder to ignore all the unusual prints on the runway, even if they, too, were color-free.
Marc Jacobs put out oversized black-and-white and red stripes on Monday a day after stripe-happy Tommy Hilfiger, whose red stripes were inspired by rope.
Carolina Herrera showed an abstract geometric print on Monday, while Elie Tahari took his prints from Palm Beach, mixing palm leaves, leopard skin and tropical flowers.
In earlier previews, Thakoon Panichgul had playful birds, Suno had a retro cell phone print and Jason Wu had prints reminiscent of an X-Ray. At Rebecca Taylor the print was Hawaiian, with fish scales at Monique Lhuillier and "space clouds" at Nicole Miller.
"Prints are personality, they have emotion, they tell a story," said Stacey Bendet, designer of Alice and Olivia _ herself wearing a leopard-print dress on Monday to present a collection that included a variety of florals _ from digital prints to painterly and candy-colored.
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week continues through Thursday before the fashion crowd heads to London, Milan and Paris.
Let's switch gears: For the past five days, the chatter at New York Fashion Week has been about softening the edges, but Marc Jacobs changed the conversation _ as he often does _ after going graphic.
Black-and-white stripes followed by red stripes, tan stripes and more black-and-white stripes came rapid fire down the runway.
There was a mod mood to the spring collection, especially the short T-shirt dresses with scalloped hemlines, but not a hint of Jacob's mystical forest theme he had for the current fall season.
"It was so graphic with no frills," said Adam Glassman, creative director of O, The Oprah magazine. Stylist and fashion commentator Mary Alice Stephenson called it "candy-striper cool."
There were other things other than stripes _ including some ruffle-front skirt suits (a lot of skirt suits in general, actually) and a midriff-baring Mickey Mouse sweater _ but it was everything horizontal and vertical that would leave the lasting impression.
Donna Karan didn't look far for the inspiration of her new top-tier collection: She looked out her office window.
The way the sun dapples on the buildings near her Garment District office is something to see, she said. The designer must keep some long hours, because she nicknamed her New York Fashion Week runway preview "Sunrise, Sunset."
It unfolded with an oyster-colored jersey daytime dress with an open back and full skirt paired with a cropped jacket, and closed with a dusty blue strapless evening gown dusted at the hemline with the print of peach-colored seashells.
Karan hit on multiple textures but often stuck to monochromatic outfits, embracing the pinks you'll see in the dawn or dusk sky, as well as soft seaside blues and greens, but most looks were varying shades of stone. She seemed more interested in mixing multiple textures, from sheer jersey and chiffon to raffia and linen, and twisting some silhouettes on the bias, creating a more asymmetrical silhouette.
With nearly 200 designers showing their wares all over the city, for an entire week, it's virtually impossible to stand out, right?
Not if you're Thom Browne.
"I love to entertain," the designer said in what was, frankly, an understatement.
As the crowd entered the room in the stately New York Public Library, 10 male models stood against a wall in gray seersucker suits, their heads covered with huge silvery orbs _ like Coneheads, but rounder at the top. At each end, a man played the xylophone.
Suddenly a flock of female ballet dancers arrived. They wore silvery pointe shoes (these were real ballerinas) and stiff hoop dresses, like the ones you'd imagine under Scarlett O'Hara's gowns. They took their places on small circular platforms and danced in place, en pointe.
Then came the models, in suits and coats and skirts, exaggerated in all sorts of ways, all in gray at first. The men gradually took the women and circled them on the round platforms. As they did, other models entered, this time bearing splashes of color _ pinks, greens, oranges.
Browne, whose work was honored this summer at the White House, explained that he'd been inspired by a Bauhaus artist popular in the 1920s, Oskar Schlemmer, a German known for his choreography _ "conceptual ballets," Browne called them _ as well as his visual art. "This is my homage to him," he said.
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