Heatherette: Metaphorically speaking, a Heatherette show is always a three-ring circus. But this time, the Barnum & Bailey-style action was literal, as Richie Rich and Traver Rains presented their big top-inspired show. Show goers munched on cotton candy made by a tutu-wearing fat lady; contortionists pretzeled themselves and walked on their hands; “drag clowns” on stilts dueled with those who weren’t, and a hula-hoop girl in a silver bodysuit twirled a cloud of hoops round and round. And, oh yes, on with the show.

“Welcome to the Heatherette Fashion Circus!” boomed Boy George, making his way down the runway, taking a seat from which he announced the show. Out came the big surprise: real clothes. Oh, sure, there have always been some beacons of reality, and the designers didn’t do away with their club-land hits such as spangled tulle bodysuits and a dress made entirely from peacock feathers. But they also worked in pretty silk dresses, both printed and plain, a sharp-shouldered tailored suit, sailor pants and adorable Western-style jeans. There was also a great series of screened T-shirts that could easily fly off shelves. ?

Of course, though, reality soon gave way when the lights dimmed for the finale: a newly svelte Anna Nicole Smith in a hot pink metallic dress, dripping with diamonds from Jacob the Jeweler, lip-synching to “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend.”

Carlos Miele: Earth, wind, fire. to kick off his show, Carlos Miele channeled a windswept goddess — the silhouette of a model undulating to Latin beats while flame-like chiffon swirled around her. It was easy to imagine a voice booming from the heavens above, “Divas, femme fatales, this collection is for you!” What else could one expect from this Brazilian designer whose metier lies in bias-cut sheer gowns and plunging necklines? Yes, the body-sculpting leather with lacy cutouts looked great, while his fur-embellished coats were appropriately glamorous, but Miele’s forte lies in whispery, second-skin dresses that accentuate the figure. Asymmetric hems caressed the models’ legs, and backs were left open to curve along the hips. Although the Spanish theme of crochet appliqués and printed chiffon and lace sometimes overwhelmed the sinuous shapes, the overall effect was one of a confident sexuality, where mere mortal women can be transformed into veritable vixens.United Bamboo: “We wanted to capture that look at the end of the night, after a party as you’re going home,” said Thuy Pham, who, with Miho Aoki, designs the hip United Bamboo label. “When you’re dressed up and messed up at the same time,”he added. That could spell disaster, when you think about how some kids party these days. But instead, as usual, Pham and Aoki translated that into cool come undone, not come apart. With ex-interns Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez of Proenza Schouler in the front row, they sent out lots of classic looks, this time spun into something new with a bit of distortion. See the tweed jackets with sequins glistening subtly, or the myriad feminine blouses with intricate neck ties. They even twisted the secretary look — ruffled swirl tops worn with sexy pencil skirts and flats with mink pompoms. Some things were a little harder to pull off, as in the trousers featuring shirt-cuff cuffs, but that was hardly a distraction.

Zang Toi: Zang Toi’s flair for the dramatic never wavers, but this season he did manage to avoid the pitfall of overly fantastical themes that have characterized some of his past shows. For fall, he was inspired by things glamorously French — Catherine Deneuve, Jeanne Moreau, Josephine Baker and Versailles, to list a few. The clothing was beautifully constructed and beaded, but most of his evening looks seem are aimed at the red carpet. Some pieces would make amazing gowns for Hollywood premieres, the opera or the theater. And there seem to be plenty of takers, because his business enjoys continued and rapid growth each season. In a slightly more wearable vein, there were also sophisticated suits accented with lace or fur trim, cute little velvet miniskirts or dresses with layered tulle hems and wild mini fur coats.

Yellow Fever: Of course New York Fashion Week would go out with a bang. And that bang sounded loud and clear Friday night to the tune of classic Guns N’ Roses, Bon Jovi, Beastie Boys and other Eighties hits being played at Jamison Ernest’s Yellow Fever free-for-all. The show wasn’t so much about the paint-splattered pants, deconstructed army cargos or the shredded T-shirts Ernest is known for, as it was about bacchanalian excess. Porn flickered on the giant runway backdrop, confetti rained down on the audience and catwalk, models made out on the runway, and the front row, which included “Sex and the City” pretty boy Jason Lewis, Johnny Knoxville, Bridget Hall and Vincent Gallo, hooted and hollered the whole way. True, those aforementioned pants, Ts and cargos only have so much appeal when sent out in a seemingly endless stream, but Ernest was wise to call in friends like James Toback to direct the spectacle and Francesca Versace to style it so sexily. And anyway, anything goes when it’s in the name of a good cause — the reception that followed benefited the OvarianMilly: A young designer surely thanks her lucky stars if, with only four years in the biz, her clothes have been worn by Kristen Davis on “Sex and the City,” Jennifer Aniston on “Friends” and Gwyneth Paltrow in “Shallow Hal.” Not bad. And after taking a look at her first runway show, you could see why Michelle Smith, the designer behind Milly, has had such success with her feminine, retro-inspired prints and use of color. Looking to the Fifties for inspiration, she played with texture and prints in a casual, glam kind of way — a nubby tweed cropped jacket over a printed silk halter, a sweet blouse paired with a sexy pencil skirt and fur wrap scarf for that extra touch, and plenty of her signature coats over dresses. Here’s to seeing more of her designs, whether on the big screen or not.

Atelier Courvoisier: Staging a runway show atop a swimming pool may be a fun notion, but on Friday evening at the Atelier Courvoisier show, it certainly didn’t look all that fun watching a few poor souls lose their footing before the show and topple into the water. Nevertheless, spirits remained high. Inspired by Napoleon and Josephine, the creative team of Brian Wolk and Claude Morais sent out a lineup of men’s and women’s looks featuring shirts and skirts in bold stripes and luxurious deerskin leather coats and jackets. The knits, particularly a light blue, short-sleeved sweater worn with a blue velvet skirt, evoked a sensual Josephine, but the numerous striped or bold-colored knickers should have been left back with the Empire.

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