NEW YORK – Who needs "The Old Farmer's Almanac"? Designer Luca Orlandi (search) is predicting a bright and sunny spring — perfect for cocktail parties in the garden.
Orlandi sent one delicate and feminine dress after another down the Luca Luca runway Sunday night at the Bryant Park tents, while Diane von Furstenberg (search) staged a parade of African-inspired looks at her downtown studio, always one of the biggest scenes of New York Fashion Week (search).
This year her front row included Diane Sawyer (search) and her husband, Mike Nichols, and actor Josh Hartnett.
Von Furstenberg described the collection of bikinis, Bermuda shorts, camp shirts and her signature wrap dresses as "the grand tour ... a romantic and intellectual rite of passage."
Travel was a clear theme, from the caftan printed with a sunset scene from the Serengeti desert to the "around-the-world" chiffon beach dress that featured a print of vintage stamps. Belly-baring scarf tops paired with short pirate pants looked great — at least on tall, slim models — and the wrap dresses, in a zebra-print jersey and white silk taffeta, were as wearable as ever.
"I thought this was one of her best collections," said Cindy Weber Cleary, InStyle's fashion director. "It was cleaner and more elegant. ... There was a fresh, effortless feeling."
Cleary said von Furstenberg handled the knee-length shorts trend particularly well. "The long short is a tough one, but she made it look good."
The new Luca Luca collection featured more dresses and skirts and is frillier than Orlandi's recent lines, and the change paid off.
The strapless rose-embroidered dress in Shantung and a green-and-white cotton pique sundress with green satin seams were standouts, as were two short-sleeve spring coats with portrait collars — one done in a white and silver Jacquard, the other beige silk linen and wool blend.
Many of the mostly yellow, light green and mauve dresses had ribbon sashes tied in a bow at the waist, and many more featured embroidery. Some had too many embroidered flowers, especially the dresses that also had tiered skirts: They looked a bit like wedding cakes.
Actress Tia Texada from NBC's "Third Watch" (search) said she's a fan of Luca Luca dresses and wears them to events. "I love the jersey he uses, it moves and you can dance in it," she said from her front-row seat. Celebrities at the show included Jessica Simpson, Venus and Serena Williams, Mary-Louise Parker and R. Kelly.
Bryan Bradley's collection for Tuleh included ribbed slips, tanks and T-shirts; jackets and vests in a variety of colors; and python and snake prints, including a snake-print satin strapless jumpsuit and metallic snake silk strapless dress.
Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones and Patti Hansen watched from the front row as their daughter Theodora strode down the runway in a python jacket, brown cashmere sweater and camel shorts. The show also included several transparent raincoats, long flowing skirts and body-hugging gowns.
Behnaz Sarafpour, Lilly Pulitzer and Donna Karan for DKNY (search) also presented their spring looks, as Fashion Week neared its conclusion Wednesday. Each designer envisioned a different woman: a geisha, a Palm Beach princess and a New York City hipster.
Karan's DKNY collection, inspired by the streets of Manhattan, included a floral embroidered linen skirt in green — representing the city's urban gardens — and a mosaic Jacquard coat shown with a beaded mosaic camisole, fashioned after the tiles in the city's underground subways.
Sarafpour sent models through the aisles of famed Fifth Avenue jeweler Tiffany & Co. (search) in kimono jackets and obi sashes. A successful variation of that look was a wide pink-striped sash tied around the waist of a red trench coat. The result was a very pretty package, perfect for the Tiffany's setting.
A beautiful classic geisha print, with black, pink and teal, was used for a tank-strap tunic, a pleated skirt and a shirtdress, while a shibori print (Japanese tie-dye) was featured on more casual garments such as a black-and-white tie-shoulder sundress.
Even a monkey print made its way down the runway at the Lilly Pulitzer show. Prints are what Lilly Pulitzer is known for, and Pulitzer, now semi-retired, still approves each one.
Classic pink-and-green Pulitzer oversized flowers on sundresses and flowing skirts were in the spring collection, but a more subtle landscape print was used for a spaghetti strap dress with a tiered bottom. The show also included a strapless dress that looked like horizontal rows of grosgrain ribbons.