NEW YORK -- From delicate purple skirts to thigh-high boots in lizard, New York Fashion Week opened Thursday with an anything goes vibe for fall.
The first of eight days of previews included lots of options from Richard Chai and BCBG Max Azria.
"The trend is freedom," said Azria, who sent embroidered tunics, fur outerwear and delicate lingerie-style underpinnings down his runway.
Chai focused on women's metallic military jackets and slim, ladylike purple skirt suits with man-tailored shirts underneath. Men shared the runway dressed in plaid suits and lean overcoats.
In addition to seasonal greens, berry tones and regal blues popped up on catwalks set up at Lincoln Center and around the city.
More than 100 shows are planned through Feb. 14 at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week drawing editors, retailers, stylists and bloggers. The hordes shift to London, Milan and Paris after that.
BCBG MAX AZRIA
Azria and his design partner, wife Lubov Azria, were inspired by Istanbul's architecture and the Gypsies of southern Europe.
Printed boxy shift dresses were worn over fluid lingerie-like underpinnings. Long vests — both fur and cashmere — topped cozy crewnecks. There were more layers, with leather leggings or lizard thigh-high boots that appeared to peek out from the hemlines of dresses and sweaters.
"It sounds a little crazy, but it's also a little bit hippie. It's different than what we've been doing," Max Azria said backstage.
Why the change for fall from more structured styles the two went with for spring?
"My wife likes it all. She likes the colors, the prints, the textures. She likes to see a melange," he said.
Chai put on a little edge, but he kept his collection neat and trim.
He is among a few designers to include men and women on the same runway. Though they walked one by one, the crowd surely could envision couples: She in a metallic, military jacket and pencil skirt, he in a plaid suit.
Chai used emerald and the dustier, more botanical Linden greens that Pantone Inc., which provides color services to most of the fashion industry, put on its Top 10 list of the season.
The designer featured a lovely shade of light purple — a little unusual for fall — on a textured jacquard with a lacelike effect for a pencil skirt and matching peplum top. A man-tailored shirt underneath added a modernity and utility that Chai is developing as signatures.
Christina Ricci watched in an embellished blue top by Chai paired with black pants.
"I have some of his clothes in my closet," she said. "I'm kind of a uniform girl. I wear jeans and tank tops a lot."