AFP

NEW YORK

New York Fashion Week got a slice of pre-Oscars, red carpet glamour Tuesday with minimal chic from Vera Wang, autumnal flash from Rodarte and Spanish sophistication from Duchess of Cambridge favorite Jenny Packham.

In a snowy New York, the American designer showcased a modern twist on Savile Row tailoring for next winter, offering daywear alongside the sophisticated evening dresses for which she is perhaps most famous.

‘I thought there was a real need for purity, because I have seen so many red carpet dresses lately. I really wanted to go our own way,’ she told AFP backstage. ‘I think it takes a lot of courage to be minimal today.’ She laughed when asked whether she could provide any hints ahead of Sunday’s Oscars in Los Angeles, when designers fall over themselves to dress Academy Award nominees - and, better still, the winners.

‘We are trying,’ she says. ‘You never know!’ Her inspiration was tailoring and menswear, she said. ‘A lot of work went to the inside of the clothes that you don’t see on the runway,’ she said. The collection was ‘based a little bit on Savile Row, but then worn not the Savile Row way. Worn looser, edgier and cooler.’ Wang incorporated a lot of sportswear - a key trend on the New York runway this season - and played with proportions to make new shapes. Despite splashes of white, the collection was overwhelmingly black. She summed it up as ‘very sporty and boyish, tomboyish but still female.’

The California-based sisters at Rodarte - who have dressed Oscar winner Natalie Portman and designed ballet costumes for her 2010 film ‘Black Swan’ - offered sequin and flamenco-inspired evening wear. Designer duo Kate and Laura Mulleavy rooted their collection in the colors of autumn, using the same browns and oranges that have been bang on trend this season.

‘For me it’s like going back to the more outdoorsy palette, kind of brown, things that are almost muted in a way but to me it’s like seeing that in contrast with bright purple or orange,’ Kate Mulleavy told reporters. Across town in Greenwich Village, Packham showcased sophisticated evening wear inspired by the paintings of 19th century Spanish artist Raimundo de Madrazo y Garreta.

The British designer said she was captivated by his portraits of beautiful, fashionable society women - the clientele she has made a career out of dressing. She presented slinky cocktail dresses and billowing evening gowns, encrusted with beads, feathers and sequins. Trousers and jumpsuits were tailored, and breathtaking jackets were made out of crystals and pearls. Her dresses, which have been worn by Hollywood A-list actresses such as Oscar winners Charlize Theron and Kate Winslet, came in many hues - navy, green, black and cocoa, accented with bursts of red and orange.

Other highlights on day six of Fashion Week came from affordable luxury brand Tory Burch, who sits atop a reportedly more than $3 billion empire, and mainstream brand J.Crew - beloved by First Lady Michelle Obama. Burch presented a delicate, feminine collection using fabrics that mimicked rugs and tapestries, and which was inspired by Morocco’s historic city of Marrakech and London’s Chelsea in the 1960s and early 1970s. ‘How to interpret that and make it modern, was the challenge,’ the American designer told AFP.