NEW YORK: New York Fashion Week injected a bit of color and glamour into wintry Manhattan on Thursday, with the first of 300 autumn-winter collections for men and women unveiled on the runways.
The opener was Nicholas K, with BCBG Max Azria and Kenneth Cole also in the first day's line-up, before a long weekend unfolds with stars like Alexander Wang unveiling their latest designs.
Cole's return after a seven-year absence was one of the highlights. Wang's collection was also hotly anticipated now that the Big Apple favorite has been named as artistic director of Balenciaga.
Another must-see was Oscar de la Renta, especially after he made headlines by offering disgraced former Dior star John Galliano a lifeline to fashion's inner circle with a three-week stint in his New York workshop.
The week began in its main home at Lincoln Center with Christopher and Nicholas Kunz' collection of dark greys and autumnal greens, huge collars, hoods, and trousers tightened up below the knee.
The room was packed for Max and Lubov Azria of BCBG Max Azria, whose silk print dresses, magnificent furs, and over-sized jackets were full of exoticism.
The designers said they drew inspiration from "the beautiful history inlaid within the architecture of Istanbul and the eclectic style of the Gypsies of Southern Europe."
Lacoste, Michael Kors, Marc Jacobs, Y-3, Donna Karan, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Prabal Gurung, Nanette Lepore, Anna Sui, Tommy Hilfiger, Zac Posen, Victoria Beckham, Jason Wu, Carolina Herrera, Altuzarra, Thakoon, Helmut Lang -- there will be no shortage of action for fashionistas in the coming week.
On top of the well-known names, a host of smaller labels were fighting to get their break. Some critics foresaw clean, uncluttered lines in the designs, while others predicted references to punk and grunge styles.
Whatever emerges, it was to be all shown live online from Lincoln Center -- a first for the long closed world of high fashion, and a welcome move for the huge numbers of fashion lovers and journalists following the action.
New York is the traditional starting point of the month-long style marathon, with shows in London, Milan and Paris to follow.
Late Wednesday, an opening gala hosted by the AIDS charity amfAR saw designers Michael Kors and Kenneth Cole, and German supermodel Heidi Klum, accompany Mayor Michael Bloomberg for the red-ribbon cutting.
The gala buzzed with models and entertainment celebrities -- "Sex and the City" actress Sarah Jessica Parker donned a Maison Martin Margiela Couture dress, and A-list model Karlie Kloss was seen in Michael Kors.
With the number of shows growing ever longer, some, like young designer Tanya Taylor, jumped the gun and got their collections out early.
Taylor presented her third collection in the Museum of Modern Art ahead of the official kick-off, with outfits that she described as including "a bit of masculine attitude, some oversize pieces" and "exaggerated shoulders."
The Taylor woman "still has a feminine touch, the pink fur, the leather," she said.