Frills and Chills

wednesday · september 8

Perry Ellis, noon

A moist 73 degrees; 92 percent humidity. Those not able to afford the de rigueur Japanese hair-straightening were desperately smoothing down that morning’s blowout.

There was no runway, just girls standing patiently under the lights, looking dangerously young, with small pouty faces and dark-rimmed glassy eyes under mounds of big wavy hair.

“The clothes are nice ,” whispered one officious-looking editor to another, and she was right. The collection, the third under industry veteran Patrick Robinson, was all ruffles and bows in delightfully vibrant yellow-golds, chartreuse greens and an array of pinks, and it looked easy and wearable.

Outside the tent, the clouds hung threateningly low and the carefully manicured lawns were minefields of sludge puddles. Now wearing skin-tight low-slung jeans and a white tank top, a model from the show smoked a cigarette under a tree, tossing the butt wearily before heading back inside.

– Sara Vilkomerson

John Bartlett, 6 p.m.

The Harvard Club played host to a preppy collection of bright oranges, pinks and green that clashed with the fluffy crimson carpet.

Rather than setting up a runway, the designer had opted for a live art exhibition, with models scattered about the room in various stages of role play. Some relaxed in burgundy wingback chairs, others sat on the edge of a fireplace. Perhaps in a nod to the intensity of Fashion Week, a tattered copy of Lord of the Flies was propped up on a side table. “This is my fantasy,” Mr. Bartlett said. “This is how I wish guys had looked and dressed when I was in college. Originally, I was going to have only Harvard guys in the show, but there weren’t enough hot Harvard guys!”

A boyish-looking gentleman with lacquered red hair and one leg slung over the arm of his chair was reading Valley of the Dolls while portraits of past Harvard presidents looked on reproachfully from the walls. Nearby, a distinguished-looking gentleman in a suit, pink argyle socks and purple Converse sneakers sat rubbing an impressive charcoal drawing of three men who were also in suits. “I lived at the Harvard Club for a month when I moved here after graduation and I sort of felt like Eloise at the Plaza,” said Mr. Bartlett, who wore the university’s crest on his right ring finger.

-Noelle Hancock

thursday · september 9

Carolina Herrera, 10 a.m.

Olivia Chantecaille, co-founder of Chantecaille cosmetics, was sitting in the front row in a black Prada accordion skirt and crisp white Calvin Klein blouse. She said she was particularly fond of a pink Herrera halter gown. “When I wear it, both men and women comment. But they say ‘You look pretty’ rather than ‘Your dress is pretty,’ which means that dress is fabulous but the rest of you looks like crap, ” Ms. Chantecaille said.

Further down the row, Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour twisted her gams like a braided pretzel stick under her Louis Vuitton navy and ivory print dress. “With Carolina, you realize how focused she is on a woman like herself-cultural, understated,” Ms. Wintour said. “She doesn’t worry about what the rest of the world is doing. It’s not vulgar. Too much falling out, transparency.” She curled her pink lips upward in a shy semi-smile. “Of course, sexy has a place too.”

Sylphs legged down the runway in a subtly seductive collection that seemed to indicate a worldly woman who is difficult to woo, but worth every penny. There were mosaic dresses and flippy skirts, in ivory and espresso, disks sewn in what Herrera calls “floating crystals,” a combined effect of light reflector and stained-glass sunflower; a ruby dress with semi-precious stone embellishments; an emerald bikini; shoulder-baring frocks with fringed horizontal aqua and ivory lines; embroidered sweaters with cuffed ivory shorts; and short-sleeved silk blouses, called “camp shirts,” in a signature print of female divers with white swim caps, evocative of Esther Williams’ cinematic pool dancers in the 40′s.

-Susan M. Kirschbaum

Bill Blass, 2 p.m.

Clad in a slim tailored black suit with pointy black boots, the starlet Angie Everhart crossed her legs and tossed her impeccably red long hair. “I think it [the collection] is very now,” she said of Michael Vollbracht’s line. “Michael has done a much younger line. I like what he’s doing, that’s why I’m here.”

The familiar idea of “lady” seemed to be the line’s inspiration, from sweet tea-length dresses with tobacco-colored bows, to flouncy blouses, ruffled skirts and peacock-like evening wear in diaphanous chiffon. Colors that stayed mainly in the Easter egg color range: pinks, yellows and creams and some warm earth-toned reds. Ivana Trump was wearing a gold and flowered suit. “It was very fresh and very feminine and I loved all the fabric,” she said. “I can see the influence of Bill Blass is still there, his feeling is still there … like that blue coat,” she said of the mod-looking swing coat that had drawn general approval from the crowd. “That reminds me of Bill Blass from 30 years ago …. I probably have that Bill Blass coat in my closet somewhere.”

-S.V.

Proenza Schouler, 5 p.m.

There weren’t many celebrities at the Milk Studio on West 15th Street, but designers Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez didn’t seem to care. Why should they? Barely two years out of Parsons School of Design, the duo have become editorial darlings.

“We don’t have a specific muse,” said Mr. Hernandez, who has the wavy dark hair and laughing eyes of a classic leading man. “We design for our friends.”

One girl claiming to be Mr. Hernandez’s friend arrived in knit navy shorts and a white Proenza Schouler top with navy buttons, and four-inch-high lemon-yellow Manolo Blahnik strappy stilettos. Preferring to remain anonymous, she flashed her feet for the paparazzi as Hawaiian music piped. Models hit the catwalk in silk and boxy linen jackets, sultry metallic and pastel bustiers with criss-cross back straps, slouchy trousers and bum-hugging pencil pants, stopping just above the ankle.

The pieces looked chic, irreverent-va-va-voom bustiers paired with tailored pants/jackets-and expertly cut. Yet so many elements mixed together-from Egyptian gold detailing to bleached alligator pencil skirts, palm-tree prints and velvet cutout flowers-gave the impression of a fickle gamine who raids her mom’s closet and emerges with an identity crisis.

-S.M.K.

friday · september 10

Zac Posen, 8 p.m.

The stars and sycophants who followed Zac Posen after his packed runway show resembled a tribe following Joseph and his Technicolor dream coat. Mr. Posen himself wore a tweed jacket, and while his sleek white suitings and bum-hugging dresses in kaleidoscope mosaics inspired crowd frenzy, Sean John (P. Diddy) Combs-his financial backer- strolled backstage with his head high.

“We’re going to put some heat under Marc Jacobs’ ass,” said Mr. Combs, who was carrying his own fashion accessory-a Maltese called Sophie-dressed identically to his master in a white Sean John shirt and black cashmere pullover. “I think it’s obvious where Zac’s trying to go. I’m more than happy with my investment …. Zac makes love to a woman in his dresses.”

Row one-which included Claire Danes, Bernadette Peters, Serena Williams and Paris Hilton-appeared genuinely awed by print frocks that married Missoni and psychedelic, ruffled dresses, fitted blouses with sexy tailored shorts, white trousers with three gold balls hanging on each hip and black chiffon gowns with trains attached to the arms which lifted like wings. (Mr. Posen even went as far to spray the white jackets and trousers with Teflon. He claims this prevents any kind of stain.)

“It’s like he’s thrown stardust on his clothes.” Ms. Peters said. “He always does something-a ruffled shoulder, no back, you feel really different.” Ms. Danes, who was sitting opposite Ms. Peters in a Zac Posen white halter dress, agreed. “That’s what’s so genius about him. He thinks that fancy, imagination, art and glamour is appropriate always, ya know?”

-S.M.K.

sunday · september 12

Diane von Furstenberg, 6 p.m.

For Barry Diller, the fashion show of his wife Diane von Furstenberg, at her West 12th Street studio, provided more of a chance to mingle than to examine clothes. “I’m the ancien régime ,” said Mr. Diller. He was wearing a white shirt with vertical navy pinstripes. “I have no fashion sense. She gives me advice about everything except how I dress. I make a lot of noise.”

Ms. von Furstenberg showed her signature printed wrap dresses, as well as three-quarter white ruffled prairie skirts and matching billowy shirts (which were derivative of Ralph Lauren), marigold splashed halter dresses, cuffed shorts and green leopard print frocks.

“I came because I have some friends that work here, ” said the actor Josh Hartnett, who was wearing a gray railroad-conductor cap and silver-rimmed spectacles that hid his big chocolate-colored eyes “It’s my first fashion show and I liked the dresses.”

“Diane owns New York,” said the actress Marisa Tomei. “But she owns anywhere she would go. She’s just somebody to emulate, not only in style, but in philosophy-this great joie de vivre . And she’s got this great, young, old soul at the same time. She’s a woman, not pretending to be a girl. Glamorous, smart and spiritual-everything.”

Sitting diagonally across from Ms. Tomei was Foreigner guitarist Mick Jones’ wife Ann, wearing a slim three-quarter gold brocade Vivienne Westwood jacket and jeans. “I think Diane represents the old and new guard.” she said. “She was incredibly innovative in her time, as well as being beautiful and social. And she’s different than the new guard because she doesn’t care that much about money. She cares more about creating …. Diane’s like a beautiful racehorse that is always jumping another fence with pleasure.”

-S . M.K.

monday · september 13

Donna Karan , 5 p.m.

A contretemps erupted outside the Donna Karan show on Monday, when a 61-year-old local resident named Martin DiMartino decided to pick a fight with one of 10-odd black-clad bouncers guarding the sidewalk. “It’s a public sidewalk,” he mumbled, leaning into the bulky guard, who sniped back. Mr. DiMartino fired his cup of coffee onto the guard’s frame.

“Do not let our security man start a fight!” shrieked Christy Hood, a publicist who had arrived just in time to see a crowd gathering round for the showdown, before she was informed that the guard had been provoked. “Well, do not let him finish it,” she scolded. Mr. DiMartino and the guard, identified later as Brian, walked across the street, where Mr. DiMartino sat down on the street on the southeast corner of Greenwich and Charles, striking a pose like Rodin’s Thinker .

“You’ve got a good seat there,” joked one passer-by. As other locals gathered, scowling at the parade across the street, it was as if years of frustration and anger-at clogged-up streets for fashion shoots and movies, expensive snobby boutiques, rising rents-finally had an outlet in the form of Mr. DiMartino, a part-time pianist, hair-dresser and, now, rabble-rouser. A small crowd gathered to get Mr. DiMartino’s back.

It smelled like mutiny, but eventually he went home.

Then the starlet Milla Jovovich stepped through the line and mugged for the cameras, looking vacant in an entirely sheer pink T-shirt and below-the-knee tweed tulip skirt. “We’ve started our own clothing line, Jovovich-Hawk, and we’re actually wearing that,” she said, motioning to her business partner, model-actress Carmen Hawk, “but otherwise Donna Karan.”

Kate Betts, the dethroned Harper’s Bazaar editor now on the masthead at Time , looked uncomfortable because, she said, she was “six months pregnant.” Fashion Week is no fun when you’re preggers. “I’m not excited at all. I mean it’s exciting, but not wardrobe-wise,” she said, pointing to her Connecticut-bland ensemble of tweed skirt and black cardigan. “Honey, it’s full-on Liz Lange.” Some might consider Donna Karan’s jersey materials easy to wear for pregnant women. “Yeah, if you’re in good shape, which is not the case,” Ms. Betts said.

Inside, the 10,000-square-foot space was a labyrinth of white couches with comfy white pillow logs. Dianne Reeves’ electrifying “Endangered Species” pop-jazz tune led off the show: “I am a woman … / I am an endangered species / But I sing no victim’s song / I am a woman / I am an artist / I know where my voice belongs.”

The outfits themselves? Lots of stretch net and jersey in industrial grays of different shades. Only a few of the nude (colored) chiffon dresses drew catcalls from the bleachers where the photographers were positioned. The models were freshly scrubbed with staticky flyaway hairstyles.

Ms. Karan got a little wet-eyed describing the space, her late husband’s former studio, but the minty smell of her gum cleared the air.

“It was a wonderful experience,” she said.

– Anna Schneider-Mayerson

Marc Jacobs, 9 p.m.

Once again, Mr. Jacobs set his show in Pier 54 of Hudson River Park (mostly Astroturf, less park). It was the most intimate gathering of 1,000 people one might imagine. Security was relentless, and standing room was not permitted. The wall from which the models emerged (after more than an hour’s wait) was papered meticulously in multicolored roses and foliage.

Jenny from the Block flounced by, wearing creamy wool. Husband Marc Antony’s cheekbones came in separately, followed by their owner, clad top to bottom in olive velvet. There was Lil’ Kim, looking demure (for her) in bright green, with only one substantial piece of bling hanging from her neck. There were the Olsen twins, also in green, shiny makeup and unkempt hair, sitting next to what seemed to be their baby-sitter but turned out to be the singer Mandy Moore, hair and skin tinted copper to match her clothing. There were the perennially glowing mothers Helena Christensen, Kate Hudson and Liv Tyler. There was the Donald, in Brioni and boarding-school tie, and his girlfriend Melania Knauss.

Models teetered down the catwalk to a remix of Christina Aguilera’s “I Am Beautiful” in exclamatory colors: turquoise! Paradise blue! Magenta! Golden yellow! Orange! There was what looked like hyperbolic hound’s-tooth (quilted to boot), some brocade, lots and lots of trumpetty skirts, little belts, little cardies, housecoats and aprons decontextualized into embellished blouses and dresses and, finally, a stream of silk poplin dresses with enormous bows in inexplicable areas. Nothing was too tight, nothing was too structured. Brocade was teamed with gray wife beaters; skirts were slung low. Neither the outsize candy-wrapper bows, set to cover up any part of the anatomy that might give away membership of the female sex, nor the pleated romper-stomper clown-stripe knickerbockers will take away from Marc’s gilded reputation.

Trampling over the catwalk and through the far rose-wall into the party area was the actress Kate Bosworth, clad in one pleated knickerbockers and brocade ensemble: “I just loved it. It was so soft, beautiful and young. I just loooooved the shoes.” And why was she in New York sans gentleman friend? “I’m here to shoot the new Revlon campaign!” To replace anyone? “No, no! Just … an addition, I guess .”

Fonzworth Bentley, P. Diddy’s umbrella-wielding manservant, was clad in a stupendous ensemble of pinks and yellow and tweeds. “He’s basically saying: ‘This is it! Just try to outdo me!’” he said of the line.

Hope Atherton, the taxidermy-loving artist, raved about the shoes. “They’re like your mom’s shoes, the ones you looked at longingly,” she said. “They have a magical quality, like big yummy candy.”

Mr. Jacobs said his collection was inspired by his late grandmother. “There were no references in particular-certainly no historical ones,” he said, sitting down briefly. His hair was tousled. “I just wanted it to be sexy, young and fresh-the colors and prints ought to suggest that. It all felt very right to me. And once again, it was that idea of anonymity I tried to recreate.” We left him sitting and watching the crowds-wearily, but not unhappily.

– Jessica Joffe

tuesday · september 14

Michael Kors , 10 a.m.

Animal skins, beachy chic: a kind of nautical-stripe thing going on. Fluttery, floral-print dresses. Sherbert colors.

In the audience, curvaceous designer Shoshanna Lonstein Gruss was wearing jeans and a black top from her own line and leaning across two chairs talking to socialite Serena Boardman. “Michael always interprets a different part of Americana in a most luxurious way that just makes you want to move into that lifestyle, whether it’s the jet set or Wyoming,” she said. “Of course, you always feel like someone will be shooting your animals or chopping your wood for you!”

“Michael’s clothes are just so easy,” added CeCe Cord, of the Kieselstein-Cord belt empire. “You can pick them up and put them on years later. I still wear Michael’s clothes from before he had his own company.”

Powder-puff heiress Aerin Lauder Zinterhofer said she wasn’t ready for fall, let along spring. “I’m going to miss the beach!” she moaned. And she’s not alone.

– N.H.