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Asymmetrical flounces _ reminiscent of a pageant sash _ were less contemporary, though.


Jessica Simpson took her seat as guest judge at Thursday’s “Project Runway” show at New York Fashion Week in a super-short, sparkly silver minidress, but she had nothing on the models, who wore an extraordinary number of hot pants.

Ten aspiring designers showed their collections to Simpson, Heidi Klum, Michael Kors and Nina Garcia, although several knew they already didn’t make the cut and won’t be the Season 8 winner. Extra designers needed to participate to keep secret the winners and losers of episodes that haven’t yet aired on Lifetime.

Opening the show, Klum, wearing a bright red menswear-style pantsuit and blouse, said she was particularly fond of this group. “I have never gotten so emotional or attached to the designers.”

She promised the audience, which included singer Jordin Sparks and designer Betsey Johnson, that they’d see color and fantasy on the catwalk. The crowd also saw an uneven mix of runway-ready, masterful looks and gimmicky ones _ especially those micro mini shorts that don’t typically garner the best reviews when top-tier designers bring them back.

Johnson said she saw “sparks of talent” among the designers when she judged a challenge to turn party supplies into wearable clothes. “It was not up my alley, but there definitely was talent.”


Richard Chai was feeling the vibe of Lincoln Center, turning out a spring collection for his Love label that mimicked styles favored by professional dancers and the students at the Juilliard School.

Layers, hardly new as a trend, were tweaked and freshened with sheer, sand-colored underpinnings, ribbed cummerbunds and soft, silky running shorts with contrast piping. The silhouettes were loose and flowy, but decidedly feminine thanks to the soothing neutral palette and strategic draping.

In his notes left for the stylists, editors and retailers, Chai quoted Martha Graham: “All that is important is this one moment in movement. Make the moment important, vital and worth living. Do not let it slip away unnoticed and unused.”

Loose leggings were worn under shorts and dresses as the new take on tights, and a silk-poly-metal fabric blend used for jackets and a pair of chic trousers was stiff yet slouchy. Chai also brought back the wide-leg palazzo pant, an easy choice for a warm-weather vacation, often pairing it with an appropriately crinkled jacket or gathered top.

This could be a further evolution of the trouser trend that has taken hold among the fashion-forward set for fall.

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