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Volume Emerging as Fall Fashion Buzzword

Volume is emerging as the buzzword for fall fashion as top designers — Marc Jacobs (search) and Oscar de la Renta (search), among them — play with proportion.

New York Fashion Week (search) hit its midpoint Monday night with Jacobs sending out a series of trapeze-shape dresses and coats down his runway at the Lexington Avenue Armory. Other silhouettes featured high waists, full below-the-knee skirts and metallic beading, another of next season's trends.

However, the handful of trousers offered by Jacobs were different than the wide-leg or skinny leggings that have been seen on other catwalks: His hit just above the ankle — sort of like the high-water pants children are known to wear on the playground.

Jacobs did offer some of his signature looks, including cardigans, crepe dresses with 1960s-inspired geometric patterns in bright colors, and funky low-heeled shoes.

Jacobs' collection was one of the edgiest so far this week, but some of the shapes likely would be hard for any woman who is not 6 feet tall, slim and toned to pull off.

The audience also grew impatient with Jacobs, who started his presentation more than an hour and a half late, and with his front row guests Beyonce and Jay-Z, who emerged from backstage and took their seats shortly before the lights dimmed. (Uma Thurman was among those waiting patiently from her place on the bleacher seats.)

It was a different vibe at DKNY, for which Donna Karan created a cool, sophisticated 1920s scene at the lounge of The Algonquin Hotel, a historic literary hangout.

Mannequins — one in a gray flannel strapless dress with green tulle underneath, another in a silver tulle ballgown — "greeted" guests at the door, while others inside were posed on couches and tabletops in soft velvet jackets, lace-trim full skirts and Art Deco-style silver tops decorated with sequins.

Karan said she opted for this presentation instead of a traditional runway show because she wanted retail buyers and fashion editors to see "the full message" that focuses on classicism and richness.

"DKNY is about the personal style of New Yorkers," she said.

Her intention isn't to dictate how people should dress, instead, she wants to present options, Karan explained.

Max Azria said in a statement that the textured fabrics and delicate details in his signature collection for BCBG was influenced by the avant-garde literary movement known as The Bloomsbury Group from the early 20th century. He offered Edwardian jackets and vests layered over camisoles and embroidered coats over slip dresses.

Slim pants with zipper details were tucked into round-toe suede boots with wedge heels, and silk dresses in orange and a bright, deep green featured crocheted insets.

Azria also tapped into the trend of short boxy jackets, pairing them with feminine skirts.

Earlier in the day at Oscar de la Renta, the story was about ballskirts — and the bigger the better.

A black cashmere sweater with a jeweled neck paired with a voluminous taffeta pleated skirt was a standout. It was fresh while still easily recognized as a de la Renta design.

Actress Lynn Whitfield said that's the outfit she'd be buying.

"He makes such wonderful skirts. It's a `wise buy' because you can wear it with a sweater, with a bustier. It's a piece that goes far," Whitfield said. "I'm such a fan of his work. It's classic, beautiful, luxurious, and he has so much integrity."

De la Renta also offered a new collection of ikat-print styles, a print he first introduced for spring. For fall, the palette of the ikat group, based on a weaving technique native to Uzbekistan, was a rich red, yellow, electric blue, a deep green, purple and brown.

The opening look at Herrera's fall runway show Monday was a sleek, simple and elegant trumpet dress in sheared charcoal broadtail. It set the overall tone of the collection. Many of Herrera's evening styles also featured architectural details.

And who needs a fur coat?

Herrera used chinchilla and fox for a boat-neck top, which was worn with a gold tweed skirt.

But will these high-concept, generally demure styles resonate with younger consumers?

Teen Vogue editor in chief Amy Astley thinks so. "Clothes that are feminine, beautiful and special appeal to young and old."

Fashion Week continues through Friday, with Jennifer Lopez's debut at the Bryant Park tents in midtown Manhattan as the finale.