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Mother Nature’s gone glam in an enchanted forest

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NEW YORK (AP) - Looking for Mother Nature? She's got her glam on in an enchanted forest.

Designers at New York Fashion Week have foraged enough texture and nature-inspired embellishment (think leaves and bark) to keep the party going through fall.

Jill Stuart let fly a bold print of owls with open wings. There were foxes and wolves, too, and faux fawn fur on her runway Saturday.

Prabal Gurung told a fairytale with eyelash feathers on whites and grays. There was a darker chapter or two in his black-slash leggings and black lace-up leather glovettes.

Feathers showed up in Jason Wu's opulent, Versailles-influenced collection, sewn on one by one, some burned at the tip for even more feel. He painted the hair of his models with gold leaf and put their faces behind lace.

The deep woods were on the mind of Luca Luca creative director Raul Melgoza in his feminine sheers with tough, barklike fabrics.

It's Mother Nature to the rescue, perhaps. The dark storm has mostly passed.

"I think people want to dress up," Wu told The Associated Press in an interview Saturday. "People are feeling optimistic right now."

JILL STUART

The oversized owl print that opened her show steered her in a more adult, sophisticated direction than the black-and-white rock princess that was her signature for several seasons.

Stuart said backstage that she envisioned an enchanted forest. With that came more color, longer lengths and chicer shapes.

"I am loving color right now. People need it," she said. She gravitated toward navy, teal, orange and the shade of a fine red wine that looked best in a trenchcoat topping a metallic-knit tweed sweater dress.

A drop-waist orange dress with the top half made of leather and the bottom done in suede pleats was an example of how Stuart added the right amount of interest to a clean silhouette.

She added, "And I'm loving right now anything just above the knee or below it at mid-calf."

Stuart experimented with prints. Small- and large-scale foxes and wolves were also among her favorite critters. She went for a fawn in a long, furry vest.

PRABAL GURUNG

His newest collection was a fairy tale gone awry, starring a princess ready to shed her perfect image.

But there was still a happy ending. Wang, the rising star, showed a maturity in his message _ and a greater taste for glamour.

Karlie Kloss opened the show in a draped red party dress with one shoulder purposely placed down the arm. Her tied mini-gloves in leather emphasized a rebellious spirit.

"Prabal is excited by this woman jilted at the altar," observed stylist Mary Alice Stephenson. "She is dripping in glamour and money, and there's no better time to show it. ... This collection feels complicated _ in a good way."

There was contrast between tough leather dresses with laser cuts and delicate crepe bias-cut gowns. Some looks hugged the body, while others drifted away effortlessly.

Carolina Herrera sat in the front row to show her support of the industry's young talent, and especially Gurung. "He has his own ideas. He knows where he wants to go," she said.

EDUN

A dressed-up Edun debuted a collection dubbed "Storytellers and Liars."

Stylists, editors and retailers went bright and early to the dark, cavernous warehouse across from the Hudson River to see ladylike printed-scarf looks offset by leather, fair isle sweaters and chunky-rib knits, and elongated turtlenecks with slim, long-line trousers.

The brand was founded by Bono and his wife Ali Hewson to bring a steady, sustainable manufacturing industry to Africa. The creative reins of Edun now belong to Sharon Wachoub.

Wachoub said in her notes that she wanted to explore "storytelling as it changes over time in various cultures. When a story is passed down through generations, it becomes a reflection of the teller and develops a new meaning that can be seen as real or fantasy."

The tale of this collection is full of nocturnal creatures. They wear a cropped quilted bomber with a stripe-print scuba zip-up shirt, and smart leather shirtdresses. A fringe crochet skirt is paired with a raw-edge leather skirt and a chunky sweater coat.

It's a long way from the glorified T-shirts and jeans Edun started with at its launch in 2005.

REBECCA TAYLOR

She chose a palette of deep blue, magenta and wine for her flirty flower-print dresses.

The New Zealand-born designer used shearling, cashmere and alpaca to showcase her flouncy feminine look.

Taylor said backstage that she found inspiration in the '70s club scene. She paired a dove gray hand-knit cable sweater with an electric blue wrap skirt.

The blue, she said, was inspired by "being in Times Square during storms."

Taylor embellished skirts and dresses with sparkly glitter flowers in silver and blue. A wine-colored dress had a halter neckline and tiered ruffles with lace sides.

Actresses Michelle Trachtenberg and Garcelle Beauvais sat in the front row. Trachtenberg said Taylor's designs are what "you want to wear on a date."

"She's the epitome of girlie glam and elegance," she said.

ALEXANDER WANG

His collection was full of the fur, leather and shine emerging as trends, but no look was obnoxiously ostentatious. Surely Wang's downtown hipster, who loves the neighborhood vintage shop as much as the best shoe store, wouldn't approve of that.

Wang fans will be wearing mink-trimmed peacoats, gathered-at-the-ankle flight pants, oversized polar fleece vests and zippers on everything. And for the party scene? Long, lanky sequin pants and several streamer-hem cocktail dresses perfect for the modern speakeasy.

Alicia Keys was in the front row and could certainly pull off any of the sexy riffs on the tuxedo.

A tafetta-bomber poncho hybrid had a quilted interior lining, but Wang's well-done, more traditional poncho that faded from merino wool into leather probably will go the distance in stores.

Quilted leather spats and fur headbands could be harder sells, but his customers are loyal, and they're largely trendsetters, too.

VIVIENNE TAM

Tam opened with dark colored pieces in tweed and wool. Turtleneck sweaters in navy blue and dark gray looked thick and inviting.

Sequin dresses included a wedding dress with fringe. Most of Tam's collection pulled from a more conservative place, but a bold red dress with sequins stood out.

Tam said she was inspired by the 600-year old Kun Opera. "The bright colors of the opera costumes are adapted to the sophisticated palette of today's urban woman, with subtle opulence."

She preserved her East-meets-West sensibility, moving through the ages by adding opera sleeves to a champagne silk blouse. She topped a black suede vest coat with Mongolian fur trim.

Keeping close to home, she worked in some dragon designs. Her cream-colored dragon crochet tunic sprinkled with jet crystals was a highlight.

"In China, we are deeply aware of our contradictions: in awe of our ancient cultural traditions, yet striving to be modern."

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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