- The Washington Times - Friday, September 12, 2008

NEW YORK (AP) - Nude _ not naked _ is what’s sexy for spring.

As New York Fashion Week came to a close on Friday, the Band-Aid color dominated the runways as a modest substitution for the bare skin and cleavage that are often designers’ favorite accessories.

The stripped-down approach has been a popular strategy for designers battling it out in a weak economy, but these looks are anything but dull. Narciso Rodriguez and Herve Leger opted for nude-colored beads, while Ralph Lauren presented liquidlike satins in a sophisticated palette from light sand to olive and gold.

Of course, nude doesn’t match most people’s skin, but that’s a good thing. Traditional “skin” tones work best on women with olive and darker complexions, says Suze Yalof Schwartz, executive fashion editor at Glamour magazine. For paler skin, try pink or gold.

More than 100 designers previewed their spring collections during New York Fashion Week’s eight days of runway shows. Other trends to emerge were a casually elegant draped look, including a popular one-shoulder goddess style, harem-style pants, corsets and beachy shades of blue, violet and marigold.

RALPH LAUREN

If there is such a thing as “refined ruggedness” Ralph Lauren found it: Think “Raiders of the Lost Ark” with a Moroccan-Egyptian theme.

He captured a weathered spirit with safari and bomber jackets and even a ripped cotton-gabardine shirt, but, of course, the core of the Lauren label is luxury, so most of the outfits were ramped up with beautiful beadwork, liquidlike satins and a sophisticated palette.

Lauren also offered both the harem and modified track pant silhouettes, with billowy legs and tight, tapered hems, that have been all over the runways.

“My new rule is, if you’re going to wear harem pants and you’re over 40, make them eveningwear and make them Ralph Lauren,” Yalof Schwartz said.

PROJECT RUNWAY

The women ruled the “Project Runway” finale Friday, leaving the reality competition’s remaining male designers in the dust of jewel toned silks, vintage inspirations and dramatic showpieces.

For most of the show’s alums, the clear favorite was Portland, Ore.-based designer Leanne Marshall, the quiet, bespectacled brunette who was one of six designers to present before an audience that included stylist Rachel Zoe, a bevy of former “Runway” contestants, studio exec Harvey Weinstein and actress Michelle Trachtenberg.

Marshall sent down a beautifully crafted collection of separates and dresses draped in large panels of white, cream and shades of turquoise. Korto Momolu, another tent favorite, had a collection of halter dresses and minis with balloon sleeves in bright green, khaki and yellow.

Kenley Collins sent down vintage silhouettes in bright prints inspired by painting, fantasy and “Alice in Wonderland.” The men _ who included Jerrell Scott, Joe Faris and the mohawked Suede _ showed far less inspiring and innovative pieces. “I thought Leanne’s was fabulous,” said last year’s winner, Christian Siriano. “She has to be winner, because everything else was not cute.”

CHRISTIAN SIRIANO

The “Project Runway” winner showed his debut collection Thursday and wants the fashion world to know he’s not a flash in the pan.

“I just think there are so many reality shows that people become famous but they’re not really famous for anything,” Siriano said in a phone interview Monday while casting models. “At least people on ‘Project Runway’ are talented.”

His namesake line, shown to an audience of the show’s alums and judges, along with actresses Elise Neal and Amanda Setton, featured futuristic skinny pants and ruffled blouses along with looks that are already his signature styles, like layers of chiffon circles.

The theme of a stormy night was repeated in dresses covered with layers of chiffon circles like groups of dark rain clouds. A one-shoulder mini dress made from diagonal tiers of gray and neon yellow chiffon strips looked like a rainy sky lit up with lightning bolts.

___

Associated Press writer Amanda Kwan contributed to this report.

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