By  on February 1, 2008

New York shows and presentations are off and running, offering varying takes on sophistication — from elegant jewel-toned pieces to an uptown-tribal mélange.

Vera Wang Lavender Label: Vera Wang channeled tony schoolgirls — of the sexy, glamorous variety — in her first Lavender Label runway show, though the collection was launched two-and-a-half years ago. A silver lamé blouse got dressed down by a soft, striped boyfriend cardigan; tweed pencil skirts hitting just below the knee peeked out beneath colorful coats, from a voluminous blue number with fur-trimmed sleeves to a calf-dusting bright green topper. And Wang, who said —she drew inspiration from the Chinese film "In the Mood for Love," once again proved herself adept at mixing jewel tones, working bold mustard- and russet-colored tops with metallic embroideries — and finishing it all off with purple tights. Wang is making a big push with this line, which is now sold at such stores as Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, Nordstrom and Harvey Nichols. Further evidence of the growth: She's opening her first Lavender Label freestanding boutique on Los Angeles' Melrose Avenue this fall.

Rachel Roy:
Pocahontas-meets-Ladies Who Lunch is the premise at Rachel Roy this fall. The designer deftly wove the two worlds together in a collection that got its jump-start with her pre-fall Georgia O'Keefe-Southwest outing. This time, however, "it's the spirit and vibrance of the first true Americans and the refinement of the Europeans joining together," she said. Thus, her favorite smart silhouettes — belted dress, bow-front blouse and lean skirt — got a shot of Native Americana in details like plumage or Pueblo-inspired patterns. Even the classic bouclé tweed suit had a hint of Cherokee worked in nubby reds and blacks. Roy's Western touches found their most dramatic form in glittery crystal-and-feather neckwear and brooches, which, now that she's received a cash influx from investors TSM Capital, will end up seeing the retail light of day.

Elie Tahari: Again opting for a swing-by presentation instead of a full-on show, Elie Tahari played with masculine and feminine contrasts for fall. He mixed wide-legged trousers and nipped-in, cropped leather jackets with elegant blouses, such as a standout ivory silk chiffon number with a ruffled collar. Throughout, Tahari went with a working-girl-on-an-evening-out theme, embroidering a sleek black skirt with beaded appliqués and emphasizing slim waists all around. In fact, practicality was very much on Tahari's mind, even when it came to his lineup of furs — mostly mink, rabbit and fox — which were worked as vests and coats and cinched with skinny belts. These were balanced with wool pencil skirts and floral blouses, great for a day that goes well into the night.More From The Shows...

Converse by John Varvatos: John Varvatos' boy-meets-girl vibe took a glitzy-grunge turn this season, with urbane separates like sequined stovepipes and vintage-inspired jackets.

Degrees of Freedom: Travelwear never looked so luxurious as it does in the hands of Noelle Reno and Matthew Mellon, whose Tudor-inspired debut cashmere collection offered everything from rabbit fur-trimmed capes to chic palazzo pants.

Angel Chang: The 14 looks Angel Chang showed were more sophisticated than those of seasons past, but other than a futuristic map print that graced a boxy dress and top, the overall mish-mash of knits, herringbone and satin missed its mark.

photos by PASHA ANTONOV, JOHN AQUINO, TALAYA CENTENO, KYLE ERICKSEN AND GERARDO SOMOZA

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