NEW YORK — You don’t need to be buttoned-up to be the boss.
The styles shown this week as New York Fashion Week neared its end showed women softening their edges but keeping their confidence.
At Michael Kors, the models resembled a secretary pool from the 1970s that had since moved into the corner office. Those bow blouses now have a luxury coat and handbag to go with them.
Gone are the minimalist, sharp-edged looks shown on so many runways for fall. There are looser, less restrictive outfits for spring that are more soft and feminine, but still grown-up.
“You know it’s funny, last fall we had this very sharp, strong, urban collection, which really was for me this reaction to how fast life has gotten,” Kors said before his show. “But sometimes I think life is a little too fast. And when we go out to dinner put your phone down, put your BlackBerry down, have a conversation. Write a thank you note, a real one. Walk down the street in the summer ... and wear something that catches the wind.”
Oscar de la Renta showed it’s possible to be feminine and still feel like you own the room. Vera Wang softened up her look with fabric petals. Gilles Mendel’s collection started with an ingenue who grows in confidence and becomes a woman.
“She’s strong, she appreciates quality, she loves clothes. I like a celebration of this woman,” Mendel said.
With a palette that includes mint and blush tones and softer blouson shapes, spring styles are for a woman who’s not afraid to wear a pink dress to the boardroom.
Michael Kors: Kors offered scarf-neck georgette blouses with the bow undone, a whisper light wool georgette pleated skirt in “banker” gray and a crisp white trench to top it off. There was also a sand-colored suede trench.
Proenza Schouler: To say the designers at Proenza Schouler loosened up their look for next spring, you have to know the starting point: The collection is inventive, cool and fairly aggressive. There was movement and ease, mixed with their other hallmark, experimental fabrics. Accordian-pleat, below-the-knee skirts were shown in metallics and tiered tops and jackets were paired with cropped, loose-leg pants.
Marchesa: Some gowns had pearls, others butterfly appliques and some had both. There was more of a light lingerie feel to the silhouettes. Predictions? The opener, a powder-blue lingerie top with a gold, metallic lace embroidered skirt, and the finale gown with an empire waist, gold lace bra top and blush tulle skirt will be on the red carpet soon.
Nanette Lepore: Lepore thinks we’re emerging from an edgier, harsher period into a new Romantic era. Her designs are full of what she calls “a softness, a sexiness, a boudoir feeling, a neo-Romanticism.” Her preview would make fashionistas happy: Pretty, flouncy, colorful, wearable. Her emphasis on softness came through in the first garment: a pair of silky shorts with a flouncy ruffle, in a blush color but with a white stripe.
Marc By Marc Jacobs: Shiny short satin dresses, rompers and jumpsuits for the girls, and satin football-style jackets for the guys, in bright reds and pinks, made it seem like these kids were headed to a hipster pep rally. Jacobs also had fun with tuxedos. A blue tux jacket was paired with tuxedo pants in the same color, but these were funky short tuxedo pants, and they were paired, like all the outfits, with sneakers.
Narciso Rodriguez: The white wool-silk coat or hammered-satin sheath were simple, elegant and chic. Rodriguez turned out a spring collection of pared-down, well-cut, wearable clothes — or they would be if the hemlines were a bit longer.