At New York Fashion Week, next autumn looks sexy and colorful

by Catherine TRIOMPHE, Thomas URBAIN
1 / 5
At Prabal Gurung, autumn looks to be bright and cheerful -- an "optimistic place," as the designer said in his notes about the collection

Over the weekend, from Los Angeles to London, the showbiz A-list strutted their stuff on red carpets for the Grammys and Britain's Bafta film awards.

Halfway between in New York, the style glitterati lined catwalks to preview the trends for next autumn and winter.

The short answer? Lots of bright color and lots of sex appeal.

Here are some highlights from the latest shows at New York Fashion Week, which culminates Wednesday with a presentation from Marc Jacobs:

- Prabal Gurung looks home to Nepal -

Gurung, who now has 10 years in the business behind him, looked home for inspiration to Nepal, where he recently spent some time.

The result was a joyful, bright ready-to-wear collection -- a theme he had introduced last season after several years of more sober designs.

He played with sari draping, especially in ikat and mandala-inspired prints.

No monochromatics or tone-on-tone ensembles here: purple or mustard yellow and turquoise, red and pink -- women should use their imagination in Gurung's world.

The designer said in his notes that he hoped to create a "multi-faceted, colorful and optimistic place where integrity, purpose, levity and love are our most celebrated virtues."

- Longchamp: leather and short skirts -

As more and more American designers flee New York for London, Paris or Milan, foreign fashion houses are flocking to the Big Apple to take advantage of the style vacuum.

Case in point: venerable French label Longchamp, which is looking to develop its stateside presence and staged its second New York show at the weekend.

The brand -- which is known for leather goods, handbags and riding gear -- has opened new stores in New York and along the US West Coast.

"It's very important for us to be here," the company's vice president for retail, Olivier Cassegrain, told AFP, explaining that in Paris, the company had a hard time cracking into the jam-packed schedule of heavyweight houses.

For next autumn, designer Sophie Delafontaine kept it classy but sexy -- embracing pleated short skirts, black studded leather and lots of looks in black and white.

- Glamour from Christian Siriano -

Even if foreign labels are rising in New York, some homegrown designers still generate buzz. Christian Siriano is one of them.

From his beginnings as a winner on TV reality show "Project Runway," the 33-year-old has quickly become one of the go-to names in Hollywood.

Just ask actresses Debra Messing ("Will and Grace"), Mariska Hargitay ("Law and Order: SVU"), Danielle Brooks ("Orange Is The New Black") and Christina Hendricks ("Mad Men"), who were all in the front row.

Siriano is also known as a champion of diversity -- on the runway and in his designs. When no one would dress actress Leslie Jones for the "Ghostbusters" premiere, he stepped up.

After a long wait to reach the show at Top of the Rock -- on the 67th floor of Rockefeller Center -- Siriano worked his magic, unveiling a series of evening gowns in silver, black, white and deep blue.

Curvy model Ashley Graham closed the show in a transparent silvery confection, as the audience cheered.

- 'Bill of rights' for models? -

Federico Pignatelli -- the owner of Industry Model Group and Pier59 Studios, where many fashion shoots take place in New York -- wants to make sure the rights of the many models working at Fashion Week are protected.

He's calling for the signing of a models' "bill of rights," which would require agencies and other industry professionals to sign clear contracts with fair and regular pay.

For non-US citizens, the contract would stipulate that their visa status not be used as a weapon.

Such contracts would put models "in a positon of strength, where they are paid regularly and it empowers them," he said, adding that it could also reduce possibilities for sexual harassment in the industry.

But Pignatelli launched his initiative without the backing of power players like the Council of Fashion Designers of America, and he readily admits that so far, he hasn't had many takers.

"They like the status quo cause it is profitable to them," he said. "But it is unfair and damaging to the models."

At Prabal Gurung, autumn looks to be bright and cheerful -- an "optimistic place," as the designer said in his notes about the collection

Prabal Gurung offered women a palette of bright colors for autumn-winter 2019

At Longchamp, leather, pleats and short skirts were de rigueur

Curvy model Ashley Graham closes the show for Christian Siriano, a new darling of the Hollywood red carpet set

Models -- seen here at the Tory Burch Fall/Winter 2019 fashion show during New York Fashion Week -- would be better protected under a so-called "bill of rights," one agency head says