New York Fashion Week Offers Peek at Spring

Just as you begin to pull your winter sweaters out of storage, in the fashion world, it's time to think spring!

Oscar de la Renta (search) called spring and summer 2006 a "celebration of femininity," as designers churned out looks that were romantic, girly, flirty and sexy with modern twist.

FOX News attended the New York Fashion Week (search) shows to sum up the key trends for you:

The Dress

The dress was the star of the season. A whole new generation of younger women are discovering that dresses are easy to wear and can be taken from day to night.

The dress was represented in every collection from Betsey Johnson (search), BCBG (search) and Cynthia Steffe (search) to the more pricey lines like de la Renta and Carolina Herrera (search).

Dresses came in every shape and style: sleek sheaths, wide halters, empire waists, shirtwaists, slinky slips, baby dolls and flirty, pouffy, short prom dresses. Every dress reflected the feminine mood of the moment.

Romantic Detailing

The romantic theme was punctuated by tailoring details such as appliqués, ruffles and strategically placed bows to emphasize a waistline or at the nape of the neck to soften up a backless dress.

Lace, embroidery, hand-beaded flowers, crocheting and ribbons were all used to embellish the chiffons, eyelets, gossamer-light organzas and silks that symbolize the fabric of femininity.

Whether decorating a blouse, skirt dress or jacket, these romantic touches screamed: "I enjoy being a girl!"

Bold Prints

Prints of every shape, size and form added drama to the collections. Geometric, floral, asymmetrical, animal and polka-dot prints were seen -- some as all-over prints and some as accent marks.

“I drew my inspiration from the '60s because it had such great graphics," said designer Carmen Marc Valvo.

Diane Von Furstenberg (search), queen of the print, had the most whimsical selection, including wicker, leaf and artichoke motif dresses.

The '60s

The '60s were the inspiration for most designers. Influences from the early part of the decade were evident, like full, gathered skirts that fell below the knees with short flyaway jackets at Steven Borrows and the column dress topped by a coat at Tuleh.

Other vestiges of the '60s could be seen in jackets and dresses tailored through the waist. Best were the gingham frocks and flirty swing coats that matched their sundresses at Bill Blass (search).

A-line dresses with trapeze coats and short-sleeve safari dresses also made appearances throughout the week.

Of course, no '60s comeback would be complete without hot pants. These pants were interpreted by all designers in a variety of lengths and shapes from the bubble cut to the longer, skinnier version with side pockets. These hot pants were dubbed as the “city short."

New Proportions

Waists are finally climbing north (they couldn’t have gone any further south without the danger of the wearer being arrested for indecent exposure).

The empire waist may well be the winning silhouette of the season, because it's comfortable and very forgiving of figure flaws.

Another favorite was a waistline that ended ½ inch above the natural line. “This effect acts to lengthen the leg,” said Michael Volbrecht, a designer for Bill Blass.

The midsection was celebrated with cummerbunds, belts, jeweled straps, obi sashes, bows and flowing ribbon ties.

Black and White

The color palette was restrained with more muted shades such as cream, beige, ecru and khaki.

In the sea of prints and washed-out colors, black and white made the biggest splash. Black and white were seen separately, as in Calvin Klein’s stark-white dresses, and in the black gaucho outfit at Michael Kors.

Shown together or separately, black and white added a modern clean touch and looked oh-so-right.

The Back Is Back

After so many seasons of exposed midsections, a new body part will get center stage: the back. This presents a whole new problem: What to do with the bra straps?

Must Haves for Spring/Summer 2006

A bold print empire sundress

• A light dress in chiffon or silk organza for evening

• A knit bolero

• A feminine romantic ruffled blouse

• A full skirt cinched at the waist

• A cropped flyaway jacket

• The city short (choose a style that fits your body)

• Flat shoes and sandals