The fashion crowd was rolling up the New York runways on Friday, headed to Europe to continue the previews of designers' fall collections.

But first, they got some last-minute style statements.

Ralph Lauren and Ralph Rucci closed things down much as they opened _ with a lot of black.

But black, while safe, doesn't have to be boring, says Candy Pratts Price, executive fashion director of, especially if you dig up some accessories you probably already own such as a brooch or a necklace.

"It's time to bring out the jewelry," she said. "And gold would be fabulous, it doesn't have to be diamonds."

Lauren, though, touted at least one new accessories purchase, debuting his new line of watches _ which were small and delicate but sparkly _ on his catwalk.


Ralph Lauren doesn't do the high-low fashion thing, with each garment that bears his collection label as fine and luxe as the next. Instead, he showed off his hallmark version of fashion mixing and matching that keeps his look modern: town and country.

A belle-of-the-ball champagne-colored gown with layer upon layer of tulle was topped with a gold lame vest and a tweed jacket, while glamorous eyelash beading of a honey-hued charmeuse dress peeked out from underneath a cozy cardigan.

Satin jodhpurs could go to the office under a fair isle sweater _ if you've got the figure to pull off those pants.

A new fashion-forward outerwear silhouette was a short crisscross wool jacket that had a portrait collar and showed a sliver of skin when worn over backless eveningwear, but a cashmere turtleneck would look just as good underneath.

Chic winter-white embroidered and shearling coats seemed the ultimate luxury _ you need to be a limousine lady to keep that clean in the city.


The Ralph Rucci collection is about the hidden tulle under a knife pleat, the reptile pattern in the matelasse and delicate feathers on the tips of the tiers of a black cocktail dress.

Rucci is a designer known for his fine details, beautiful fabrics and impeccable construction, and once again those were the hallmarks of the styles. Yet as he brought the curtain down on New York Fashion Week, he did it with a rare series of bold prints. Gowns with magnified photographs of 7th century Khmer statuary surely made the statement Rucci wanted to make, but it still was an oversized stone face plastered across her bodice. Maybe it's for the museum-gala crowd.

Other eveningwear was noteworthy, however, for elegance, including a beaded full-length bodysuit with a feathered poncho-style top that Rucci called a "cage."

Some of the best daytime looks were his "relief effect" dresses, which had swaths of sheerness set against wool.

"The fabric slopes up from the surface, rising like a sand dune, then gradually flattening as it glides across the body," Rucci described in his notes.


Zac Posen knows how to make a dramatic entrance _ personally and professionally.

He didn't settle, as most designers do, for a small wave to the crowd after presenting his collection. Instead a tails-wearing Posen, holding the hand of model-actress-artist Paz de la Huerta in a chainmail gown, strutted to the end of the runway to pose and bask in his moment.

He invited the brothers-and-sisters pianist team The 5 Browns, who provided the show's live music on five grand pianos, to join them and they all took a triumphant bow in front of a packed house at the Bryant Park tents.

Posen's fall clothes matched that sense of grandeur.

A gold gown with a tremendously pouffy hemline was covered with a quilted organza petal coat, while a broadtail fur coat had an added optic-lace gold overlay. In fact, there were several furs that got the Posen treatment: a mixed rose-colored mink with a metallic floral fabric and another mink decorated with the black and red symbols of a backgammon board.

Not everything was so over the top, though. A simpler gray pieced wool daytime dress and a gray-and-black embroidered trench coat, while subdued compared to other outfits, ramped up the overall sophistication of the collection.

"I celebrate the relationship of passion to pragmatism, and the power of a woman's self expression," Posen said in his notes.

Marchesa had better get its new gowns on a plane: They belong at a Hollywood awards show _ not a sparse Chelsea art space. A black-lace corset gown covered with a cream-colored tulle skirt and beaded bow and a strapless pewter-cocktail dress with a metallic tulle overlay would arrive on the red carpet already winners.

A close runner-up would be a nude-colored strapless with hand-embroidered flowers.

Georgina Chapman said her inspiration was a fairy tale _ an antidote, or at least a distraction, from the world's economic realities.

"You want a woman to put on her dress and feel beautiful, you want her to forget about her day and just put it on and think, 'I feel great and I'm fabulous,'" she said.

The one outfit the designer might want to revisit then was an embroidered nude-colored suede dress with beautiful bow details. The dress had wire-and-lambswool molded hips, not typically an area women want to draw attention to.

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