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NY Fashion Week inspired by faraway lands

Tuesday - 9/11/2012, 9:17pm  ET

By SAMANTHA CRITCHELL
AP Fashion Writer

NEW YORK (AP) - Every so often at Fashion Week, there is a moment when the runway is transported from the bustle of New York to a different time or place.

Who needs a plane ticket to join the jet set? Might as well let your clothes do the globe-trotting.

At Vera Wang on Tuesday, it was an idealized India. Tory Burch's muse was a preppy American who goes out to see the world. J. Crew had in mind a beach vacation. Rodarte? Medieval role playing.

"If you see a great dress, you can build a lot around it," said Ty Hunter, Beyonce's stylist, who said the right look might even inspire a real-life trip to shoot a music video.

Editors, stylists, retailers and celebrities will continue gathering at Merdedes-Benz Fashion Week through Thursday before heading to London, Milan and Paris.

VERA WANG

Vera Wang's India-inspired clothes were quiet, delicate and lovely, sometimes requiring a trained eye to notice Wang's nod to the Nehru collar or choli jacket. They invoked India without ornate trappings or touristy gimmicks.

Wang's A-list crowd (Stacy Keibler caused a front-row frenzy) could appreciate the soutache embroidery, which looks a bit like braided lace, that decorated a white sleeveless V-neck shift, and the chartreuse brocade peplum top with gold jeweled epaulettes paired with a chantilly hand-pieced lace sheath.

The collarless, sleeveless tailored jackets were a bit more obvious in their reference to India, but not too much so.

"The collection is out of India, but India is just the starting point," Wang said in a backstage interview. "There is no belly dancing, there are no sarongs, there are no saris. It is about the sort of discipline about Indian men's clothes like Nehru, against the mystery and sensuality of Indian women _ but not literally."

THE ROW

Here's how far Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen have come with their fashion collection The Row: Sitting at the spring preview, it becomes clear that other designers at New York Fashion Week have been mimicking the layered-yet-airy refined look that is at the heart of this label.

This was the real deal, though, with the Olsens piling on the models long and fluid duster coats, tunics and dresses on Monday, sometimes paired with pajama pants and other times with slouchy skinny-leg silk ones.

The Row did hit on the emerging lingerie trend, although they don't get credit for starting that one. That seems to be a collective statement coming from fashion insiders as they put next season into focus.

Almost every outfit here was a single color, head to toe. There was no embellishment so the clothes had to speak for themselves. In their notes, the Olsen twins said the collection "celebrates a spirit of subtle colors and exquisite layering."

It was another example of the easy elegance that earned them the Council of Fashion Designers of America's award earlier this year as the top womenswear designers.

RODARTE

Punk met the medieval princess on the catwalk at Rodarte, where the design-duo sisters said they were inspired by medieval and role-playing games.

Laura and Kate Mulleavy took the edge off grommet-covered leather pants by pairing them with silk blouses, and toughened up a brocade organza dress a leather embroidered bodice.

The peach halter gown with a yellow waistband could entice a hero for a damsel in distress.

But don't mistake this spring collection for anything but modern: The chunky shoe made of mixed materials and a computer-cut heel made sure of that. The cagelike corsets used here fit into this apparent fascination with harnesses this round of fashion previews, but they somehow seemed to make more sense on this runway where the Mulleavys don't pull any punches.

BADGLEY-MISCHKA

Mark Badgley and James Mischka seem to like movies a lot. Old movies.

For their Spring 2013 collection, the designer duo picked a 1935 film version of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" _ a play that takes place in the spring, after all.

The film starred James Cagney, but the star of the Badgley Mischka collection was their fabrics _ "springlike fabrics, but with depth to them," explained Mischka backstage. Lots of tulle and chiffon, for example.

Among the more interesting fabrics was a "hologram tweed" _ a shimmery tweed used both in a casual pant, paired with an ivory organza bustier, and in a jacket, paired with an organza and chiffon skirt.

But though there were a number of separates featured, Badgley and Mischka are known for their eveningwear, loved by celebrities and socialites (the crowd included Kevin Jonas and gymnast Aly Raisman). And there was plenty of that, for example a filmy celadon-colored tulle and organza gown, and another tulle-and-organza creation in a brilliant coral _ the show-closing gown.

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