- Associated Press - Thursday, February 9, 2012

NEW YORK (AP) - The bright sunny morning that started New York Fashion Week on Thursday didn’t keep an evening shade from falling on the runway at BCBG Max Azria, the first major collection to give a glimpse of how fall style is shaping up.

There was a continuation of the colorblocking trend that’s already making its way to red carpets and magazine covers for the spring season, but neon pink became a muted coral here, and purple a mellow merlot.

Embellishment was sparse in the collection designed by Max Azria and his wife Lubov, with the emphasis on geometric shapes, intricate pleats and unexpected mixes of fabrics, including several pieces with patchwork-style pieces of recycled-but-real fur.

In the notes prepared for the retailers, editors and stylists who descended upon Lincoln Center’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week tents for the first of eight days of previews, the Azrias said they were using the palette and textures “to add character.”

It seems a continuation of the effort the designers have made in the last few seasons to elevate the brand to a more sophisticated, restrained _ and more expensive? _ level.

Aiming for “an artful proposition,” they used an elongated silhouette in the spirit of the Bauhaus, an influential German school in the 1920s that taught a design style integrating crafts and fine arts.

This worked well for the everyday pieces, including colorblocked trenchcoats and a simple T-shirt style shift. Adding airy sheer panels to an otherwise slim-cut and shorter dress was a nice twist. BCBG often puts jumpsuits on the runway, too, and they look great in photographs, making the models look even longer and leaner, but it’s still not an item you see much of on real people _ not even in these fashion-forward front rows.

Colorblocked garments have geometric chunks of bright colors and have been fashion staples since Yves Saint Laurent’s 1965 collection inspired by Dutch painter Piet Mondrian.

Model Erin Wasson sat on the other side of the catwalk at BCBG, saying she had “come full circle” sitting there. Still, she was working _ with a 5:45 a.m. wake-up so she could have hair and makeup done before slews of backstage interviews.

___

Follow AP coverage of New York Fashion Week at http://twitter.com/ap_fashion.