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Rich Relations – Kenneth Cole, Yigal Azrouel, Nicole Miller, Tocca

From tough-girl leathers and chunky knits to velvet and sweet chiffon, one thing remains the same -- the deeper the hue, the better.

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From tough-girl leathers and chunky knits to velvet and sweet chiffon, one thing remains the same — the deeper the hue, the better.

Kenneth Cole: Fashion types can sometimes take themselves oh so seriously. So kudos to Kenneth Cole for kicking off the week with a little self-lampoon via his typical show-opening message videos. His causes du jour: The Air-Kiss Challenged Society, OFD (obsessive “fabulous” disorder, striking the vocabulary of millions) and Catwalkers Anonymous, who can’t help but strut their stuff in supermodel homage.

Happily, the laughs ended with an afflicted fat guy doing his Linda Evangelista swivel at work, as Cole turned serious when his own models hit the runway. They paraded his increasing dedication to polished sportswear, as he continues to zero in on an attitude of snappy practicality. Thus, pleasantly familiar shapes cut from dark wools, cashmeres and skins projected urbane panache sans pretense: a belted rust suede jacket over pants; a discreet plaid trench; a shapely, shawl-collared suit dressed down with men’s-inspired lace-up shoes.

But such jauntiness has its limits, so Cole mixed in girlier moments, as well. And if his drapy Grecian numbers felt labored, he countered the toil with delightfully breezy dresses in pleated chiffon.

Yigal Azrouël: Yigal, you’ve come a long way since the simple draped jersey dresses you started with. And we’re glad you got here because your fall showing was a great time. As fashion presentations go, Azrouël did exactly what a good designer is supposed to do: leave everyone wanting more. More of those beautiful, fluid chiffon gowns with contrasting velvet straps; more of the whispery thin leather jackets that draped like silk; more of that chunky brown cardigan — one just wasn’t enough — worn over a tailored tuxedo-style shirt.

Inspired by the ethereal, “shattered” vases created by his nephew Dror Benshetrit, a recent favorite among design buffs, Azrouël channeled his ideas into a trim 13 looks for day and night. “I like the balance of the two,” he said. “It’s how you wear it, like a nighttime jacket for day. It’s glamorous.” He knew exactly when to lay on the details — pintucking cream and black panels into a knee-length dress and adding tuxedo ruffs to crisp white blouses — and when to pull back, as when he sewed just a few florettes along the neckline of a pretty blue-and-black floral dress. He mixed in a lot of different fabrics, shapes and prints, but pulled it all together with a singular vision of sophisticated ready-to-wear.

Nicole Miller: Nicole Miller is a self-professed metalhead — as in gold, silver, copper and anything else remotely shiny. So her love of the glittering stuff played perfectly into the Byzantine world she stepped into for fall. She translated it best for day where, if she went for a strong silhouette, she muted the colors and vice versa. A bright copper-trimmed floral, for instance, added zip to an otherwise simple shirtdress. There were plenty of the boldly printed blouses and coats that mark a Miller collection, but she didn’t always resort to graphics. While it wasn’t necessarily a more minimal direction, it did push her toward something sexier, seen in the tough-girl leather jackets and stovepipes, as well as a dark organza shirt that was steamy in its strict, almost confining cut. She also offered a group of appealing black and brown wool coats and jackets, most often in swingy styles with three-quarter-length sleeves and fur trims.

Tocca: Tocca’s Samantha Sung took a step in a new direction after taking over the design helm from Ellis Kreuger last season. For fall, Sung went down the poor boy’s country path — circa 19th-century Charles Dickens — for that romantic, Victorian bent. There were dashes of Oliver Twist tweed and street urchin silhouettes such as shrunken boy jackets and knickers. But there was also an “East meets West” theme, according to the designer, and to that end there was a flurry of Hungarian peasant dresses, Turkish hand-embroidered tops and skirts, as well as tweeds, floral lace, corduroy and crushed velvet, sometimes all in a single garment. It made for a helter-skelter collection, yes, but when Sung reined in her creative wanderlust, the all-over look turned beautifully busy.

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