- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 15, 2010

NEW YORK (AP) - The runways at New York Fashion Week carved a path through the woods _ sometimes literally.

Michael Kors had a wooden runway lined with boxwood for his sunny nature-inspired show on Wednesday, which featured a “shredded shrub” fabric. At Rodarte, dresses mimicked tree bark and wood paneling.

But nature was evident even in ways that were less obvious _ in natural, textured fabrics like gauze, silk and linen.

“It’s all very natural and easy and it’s all being mixed: chiffon, gauze, leather, suede, hemp and linen. It’s an interesting take on what you find in nature,” said Joe Zee, creative director for Elle magazine.

The earthy feel goes with the easy feeling that has prevailed at the spring Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week previews that run through Thursday. The fashion flock then moves on to London, Paris and Milan.

MICHAEL KORS

Bells and whistles can mask many things in fashion: sketchy tailoring, stale ideas and figure flaws. Simplicity done well, like Michael Kors turned out Wednesday, means everything else has to be perfect.

“It’s all about the way you cut it, the texture … You can’t hide behind ruching and ruffles. But I love simplicity when it’s right,” Kors said backstage just after his “Sunshine State of Mind” collection debuted on the runway. The words he used to describe the look that included a daffodil-yellow cashmere tank dress, a crinkly hemp linen tunic, a white gauze pullover and matching sarong skirt that looked like something the long, lithe model just tossed on in the casually chic way models often do.

The fluid gabardine trench over a stone-colored pullover and floaty linen gauze skirt captured the easy elegance that editors, stylists and retailers are buzzing about as the big message from the spring collections.

The shoes were mostly flat buff-colored sandals. Kors said he was tired of seeing women in heels tucking an extra pair of shoes into their bags; the solution is stylish flats.

MARCHESA

Really, no one had to go farther than the entrance of the Marchesa Fashion Week presentation at the Chelsea Art Museum to see “the dress.”

It was a huge black-and-white tulle confection decorated in a hand-painted floral motif.

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