>> For Spring 2012, Karen Walker riffed on the idea of "The American Girl", citing two polar-opposites in particular: buttoned-up Betsy and street-wise Iris from the 1976 movie Taxi Driver. And so out came the straight skirts, prim blouses, and secretary dresses for Betsy; jaunty jumpsuits, mixed-up prints, and mini-skirts for Iris. But fans of Walker know the designer doesn't like to play her references too straight, and thus these '70s girls got a bit of a 1940s twist — pants were cropped and pleated, blazers were shoulder-padded and twee, and peplums flared over many a hip.
>> In a season of bold prints and colors, Chris Benz — who has held both near and dear to his design repertoire from the start — really went for it in his new collection: "It's Andy Warhol's superstars go to Coney Island, with a nod to candy kids." Optic black-and-white circles, blown-up graphic prints in an assortment of brights, and checkerboards of color were mixed throughout. Benz also collaborated with Alejandro Ingelmo on shoes once again — this time high-top sneakers or wedges with a floral motif on the heel.
>> For Spring 2012, Jenna Lyons and Marissa Webb stuck to what they do best — that is, churning out a well-edited selection of everyday staples and show-stoppers. There was a lot of buzz surrounding J.Crew's debut on the fashion calendar this week — and the collection, shown Tuesday to an amped-up Lincoln Center crowd, lived up to the hype. Eye candy in the form of cheery colors and prep prints — styled in that just-so Lyons way — was aplenty. Standouts included '50s-tinged cropped-pants in daffodil yellow; tent-sweaters in cerulean and citron; a floral-printed pants-set complete with peplum; and too many trim-cut shorts to count.
>> Kanye West has been noticeably MIA from New York Fashion Week, reportedly because he's prepping for his own womenswear launch during Paris Fashion Week next month. Harper's Bazaar Australia, whose own Christine Centenera is said to be collaborating with West on the collection, reports that he will show as part of the official Paris Fashion Week calendar (which has not yet been released), at 9.30 pm on Oct. 1, directly after Jean Paul Gaultier and Loewe — instead of doing a presentation-style format for key editors only.
Riccardo Tisci, who designed the artwork for West's new album with Jay-Z, Watch the Throne, is reportedly mentoring West on the collection.
>> In a room packed-to-the gills with cameras and special guest stars, Rachel Zoe presented an easy-on-the eyes assortment of separates for Spring 2012. While Zoe stuck to simple ideas, there was plenty here to like — blazers, in particular, looked smart over crisp shorts, cropped trousers, and flip-skirts. Maxi dresses were a draw as well, with Zoe employing use of some lush pleating and floaty fabrics for a bit of LA glamour and ease.
It Happened Backstage — Snaps at Thakoon, Tommy Hilfiger, Victoria Beckham, DKNY, and Diane von Furstenberg
>> What did the Sunday show backstage scene bring us? Valerija Kelava mimicking her heart-embellished Thakoon top with her hands, a close-up look at the scrunchy leather spats from Victoria Beckham, and Karlie Kloss making a dash for the runway in her Tommy Hilfiger maillot. All that, plus peeks behind-the-scenes at Diane von Furstenberg and DKNY, in the slideshow.
Photos: Greg Kessler