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NEW YORK — Known for her feminine touch and easy downtown edge, Stella McCartney is turning out a stellar pre-spring collection. This season, she’s all about the details, playing with ropes, knots and ties. The designer also is offering a range of pants, from skinny denim to relaxed knickerbockers — sure crowd-pleasers for McCartney’s hipster girls. And for a dressier look, she’s showing plenty of pretty dresses with beaded necklines and sweet prints, paired with cozy cardigans for a relaxed look.

Zac Posen‘s muse this season is the “gallerina,” a word he’s using to describe the assistant who works the front desk of an art gallery, aspiring to become one with the art. The designer succeeded with his intricate chiffon, hand-painted embroideries and sculptured gowns that are works of art in and of themselves. Posen also is trying his hand at volume, using shiftable gold boning on a top, dress and skirts so that his creative girls can play and create their own works of art.

Meanwhile, George Sharp Collins is taking a more minimalist approach with his first Ellen Tracy collection. “I wanted to get away from the embellishment. Cruise is about travel; it should be easy,” explains the new vice president of design. To that effect, flax linen was cut into a crisp duster jacket and drawstring pants combo for a relaxed mood, while the fabric was also tailored into a wide-legged suit appropriate for dressier affairs. In lieu of embellishment, there’s plenty of shine this time around. Beaded or Lurex-shot knits sparkle when paired with pencil skirts and bermudas in metallic leather or jacquard.

When it comes to cruise for Dana Buchman, it’s all in the mix. The designer is playing with proportions and layering with abandon, giving the collection a youthful feeling. Short-sleeved cardigans and bracelet-sleeved jackets, most in laser-cut pony or suede, top floaty chiffon blouses and skirts in neutrals such as chocolate and nude, and in playful prints of polkadots and florals. And for the beach-bound babe, Buchman prefers a bit of bohemia, evident in patchwork-printed chiffon tops, acid-bright skirts and a mosaic-printed mini caftan.

–Photos by John Aquino, Thomas Iannaccone and Don Ashby

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