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Diesel: While Diesel’s inspiration for fall — Russia meets the American West — was clear Thursday night, it still begged the question, does it make any sense? The answer was a firm no and the over-the-top fringed, tutued and spangled premium-priced wares served as proof. Diesel is one of the most rock-solid denim-based companies in the world, and owner Renzo Rosso and creative director Wilber Das are far from novices when it comes to knowing their customers. On that note, there were undoubtedly pieces that will serve the everyday circumstances of cool gals and guys, such as the lush, fur-lined leather bombers that were cropped and wrapped around the body, daring denim minis and short shorts with embroidered back pockets.

It’s a fashion show after all and excess is expected, but next time, offer the people who are getting the clothes into their pages and stores better than third row or — gasp! — standing-room seats. Surely, the masses of hanger-ons perched beside Missy Elliott, Michelle Rodriguez, Vincent Gallo and Tara Subkoff would understand.

Iisli: Nelson and Sisi Li’s knitwear collection, Iisli, may already hang on the racks of high-end retailers like Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue, but this week marked the runway debut for the two-year-old, New York-based company. Runway pomp be gone; this show was all about the clothes — unadulterated, fabulous knitwear. And what a knit fest it was. There were ladylike pointelle cardis and sweaters with crystal button accents; holiday-happy sequin vests and chunky wool scarves, and layered cashmere tops and skirts with crochet leggings and fingerless gloves for a grunge effect. There were enough knits here to go from uptown to downtown and back again.

Benjamin Cho: It’s too bad that Benjamin Cho goes for theatrics on the runway, as it tends to overshadow some great clothes. To wit: effeminate boys sporting oversized culottes, a football uniform with heels and oversized umbrellas that continue into billowy dresses. But in the midst of this madness, there were gems that shined through: oversized bows placed on dresses, pants and skirts à la Blass, signature knits and beautifully pleated skirts, many of which were shown with big crystal jewelry. If Cho can stay the course with these pieces, he might be viewed as a serious talent.

Kai Milla: Kai Milla, wife of Stevie Wonder and first-time designer, focused on eveningwear for fall. A smart move for someone who has high-profile event experience, and certainly the parade of satin, velvet, organza, chiffon and sequins, were appropriate for the genre. But as often happens with new designers, Milla tried to incorporate too many ideas at once. But that’s not to say there weren’t some winners there, too. Her plunging jersey gowns with sequined hip bands moved beautifully, and the toffee silk satin strapless gown with baseball-like stitching would keep any red carpet red hot.

Trovata: So-Cal surfer boys don’t exactly seem like the type to throw a blue-blooded garden party for their first formal fashion presentation, but then again, the fact that the four behind this burgeoning line (John Whitledge, Sam Shipley, Josia Lamberto-Egan and Jeff Halmos) are designers at all is equally baffling. But after viewing these comfy worn classics, you kind of get the beach-bum-goes-to-Harvard aesthetic. The collection includes soft classic cashmere sweaters, chinos, fitted jackets, butter-soft Ts and corduroy from head to toe. Piece by piece, the lineup isn’t exactly earth-shattering, but taken as a whole, it successfully illustrates a lifestyle. Think Abercrombie & Fitch or American Eagle, only way cooler. Unfortunately, the mood lighting at the National Arts Club where they showed made it virtually impossible to truly see the clothing, a major misstep for young designers.

Gary Graham: Gary Graham’s fall collection was based on an imaginary trio of women — a scientist, a boondock honey and a Gothamite — and he managed to combine the social chic of one with the clinical edge and country bumpkin appeal of the others. And it was all executed to perfection with a matching soundtrack — rock, country and dripping beakers. To that end, the scientist wore silk bustiers and quilted armor coats in a palette of gray and black; the boondock honey wore twisted bouclé skirts and shearling vests paired with wellies, and the Gothamite wore pretty georgette dresses and swinging taffeta and organza skirts. While it may all sound schizophrenic, the mix of looks (and personalities) were worked to chic effect.

Alice Roi: Alice Roi is steadily gaining momentum. For fall, Roi went with sleeker, more refined versions of her often kooky fashions of past seasons. Perhaps it is an aftereffect of her recent engagement or simply a function of experience. The designer displayed grown-up schoolgirl charm in the form of sweet velvet ruffled dresses and velvet eyelet tunics as well as wool pinafore dresses over smartly tailored shirts. Thick woolen sweaters were belted over leggings and miniskirts in subtle navy and bright orange and mustard yellows. Though she proved her talents in her blouses and dresses, her sampling of pants, such as the flared, tight “dandy pants,” and her low-slung satin track pants were a tough sell. This season marked Roi’s first foray into a licensing deal with Tendler Furs, and the result was fur-trimmed belted blazers, a woven mink preppy-ish sweater and a smattering of fur accessories.

Who better to design for the jet set than one of their own? With the fall Tory by TRB lineup she showed Thursday, Tory Burch covered all that a society dame needs for travel, whether zipping about town or going to some far-flung, must-go-to spot. She mined her vast travelogue, ripping pages from stops in India and Marrakesh and channeling those influences into detailed beadwork and embroidery on skinny pants, coats and tunics. She especially favored the kurta silhouette, doing it in earthy browns and greens, all with distinct, heavy beading at the yoke. But it wasn’t all boho mojo. Burch tapped into an emerging trend on this week’s runways — the sweater vest, doing her versions in graphic sunflower patterns. The designer is also expanding her accessories line to include a range of soft leather totes, bejeweled clutches, snappy sandals and those big furry boots the ladies of this city love so much.

Trovata: So-Cal surfer boys don’t exactly seem like the type to throw a blue-blooded garden party for their first formal fashion presentation, but then again, the fact that the four behind this burgeoning line (John Whitledge, Sam Shipley, Josia Lamberto-Egan and Jeff Halmos) are designers at all is equally baffling. But after viewing these comfy worn classics, you kind of get the beach-bum-goes-to-Harvard aesthetic. The collection includes soft classic cashmere sweaters, chinos, fitted jackets, butter-soft Ts and corduroy from head to toe. Piece by piece, the lineup isn’t exactly earth-shattering, but taken as a whole, it successfully illustrates a lifestyle. Think Abercrombie & Fitch or American Eagle, only way cooler. Unfortunately, the mood lighting at the National Arts Club where they showed made it virtually impossible to truly see the clothing, a major misstep for young designers.

Vivienne Tam: Gung Hay Fat Choy! Vivienne Tam’s show began promisingly enough. The day was certainly auspicious — Chinese New Year, which the designer celebrated by leaving red lai-see envelopes, containing one greenback, on everyone’s seat — and the premise was plenty inviting: a night at the opera with Greta Garbo. Of course, Tam being Tam, the drama in question was the Beijing opera, and she kept the references to prints and silhouettes, which was a good thing, since her collections often fall short when she’s too mired in her own sinophilia. This time, the two (Chinese opera and Garbo) were a match made in tien as Tam showed a masked print here, a Chinese beaded and embroidered accent there, and did Garbo to the hilt with everything else in the lineup. There were Forties skirts and chiffon tie blouses, high-waist trousers in plaid as well as velvet dresses and fitted jackets. Tam, however, steered off course during the second half, with the sheath dresses, taffeta getups and a pleated metallic magenta skirt that were all pretty enough on their own, but downright foreign to the overall tone of the collection.

Marc by Marc Jacobs: Marc Jacobs’ little sister line has had its own independent life and look since birth. It’s a rotating romp that every season draws upon various elements of cool-kid wardrobes, mining more decades than VH1. Fall was no different, with shades of Vivienne Westwood tartans and pirate stripes, the bright punky chic of Bow Wow Wow and even a touch of big sister in the more sober goth-girl looks. The theme of volume also seemed to have spent the night in the Lexington Avenue Armory, showing up in the coat with a sculpted tulip hem, all manner of full skirts and an enormous hooded parka. (Take note, Mary-Kate and Ashley!) But in the end, it’s Marc’s always undeniable special blend that makes the line the everyday closet of today’s cool girl. She won’t be disappointed.

Jennifer Nicholson: Which witch is which? It’s a question that fashion lovers might be asking themselves come fall, with a dusky streak of Goth already working its way through the collections. To be fair, Jennifer Nicholson’s tastes have long included the dark side by way of Victoriana. This season, she saturated her collection with the theme from beginning to end. Mostly, she worked it to chic effect — with high-neck lace blouses and dresses and tailored frock jackets and short pants. Printed dresses, dancing with Ouija board symbols, cameos and black cats, could even be considered witty kitsch. But Nicholson needs to learn that being a designer doesn’t mean that you have to make your hand so obvious. There’s no need for tricky details, such as the asymmetrical black velvet ribbon strap on a black beaded lace dress or on another’s exaggerated balloon hem.

John Varvatos: John Varvatos, best known for the easy chic of his men’s wear, put his women’s collection back on the runway after last season’s absence. And just what sort of woman is Varvatos after? Well, it certainly isn’t the theoretical wife of his men’s clientele. Maybe the mistress? For fall, Varvatos’ woman took after an angel — “Charlie’s Angels,” that is. The collection read like a page right out of that disco era detective jiggle fest. A midnight silk halter jumpsuit, slit down to there, opened the show, setting the tone for the rest of the lineup. Flowing silk trousers, off-the-shoulder tops and shirtdresses rounded out the mix. When Varvatos went tailored, it was oh-so Farrah, as in a shrunken three-piece suit with a sheer silk shirt. And the big hair and scarves galore did little to help Varvatos’ cause for carefree dressing. Just ask the wives.

Alvin Valley: Around the world Valley goes, where he stops, nobody knows. After past jaunts to Spain, an African safari and Asia, this time, Valley stopped in the American West with a collection steeped in Native American references. “My inspiration was Dee Brown’s book ‘Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee,’” the show notes read, and to that end, Valley showed a series of looks faintly reminiscent of Miguel Adrover’s last New York hurrah, but with the sexy-cool formula that is signature Valley. He showed Navajo prints on ponchos, gold sequins and paillettes on halters and skirts and tribal beaded neckwear. But Valley couldn’t help his wanderlust, or era-lust when he made references to the Union soldiers of America’s Civil War with brass-buttoned military vests and jackets, as well as to the Continent’s Spanish influence in his silk charmeuse bow blouses, velvet gowns, flamenco dresses and, of course, Valley’s famous tailored trousers.

Chaiken: Ever since all the DIY shows made painting — and then repainting — just the thing to add a little spice to a dull room, people, including designers, have been rethinking color. Sponsored by Benjamin Moore, Jeff Mahshie asked his Chaiken audience: Let’s rethink the color scheme of your wardrobe, shall we? He took the classic khaki trench and reworked it, first in a divine pine green and then in the deepest aubergine, replacing the traditional belt with a wide, ribboned band — a seemingly small change that reaped a big, sophisticated result. Such beautiful hues and subtle details marked the rest of the lineup, including skirts in Mediterranean blue or olive that swirled around the body and wool knits in earth tones that wrapped and fell gently. Minus two incongruous sailor tops, these were the sort of clothes that a girl might not buy just one of — she’d get one in every color.

Betsey Johnson: There’s nothing like starting the week with a good buzz. And fashion’s die-hard party girl, Betsey Johnson, was more than happy to provide Monday’s show goers a bacchanalian means to an end. Namely, a perfectly chilled bottle of Guinness to knock back preshow. Makes sense, then, that Johnson’s fall setup was a pub — “The Bull and Betsey,” with a tartan runway and four plaid-clad barmaids to start the revelry. And what fun it was. True, Johnson hasn’t been one for thematic consistency within a collection of late, so it’s no surprise that she segued from adorable Fair Isle cardigans to charming cha-cha skirts to liquid satin sirens. Big winners were the Forties-style fluid dresses, in a subtle polkadotted sage and heart-printed emerald, for the lass who wants to be the cutest one at the pub or the party. What held the lineup together were the frills — they were bountiful — and the colorful, plucky joie de vivre that is Johnson’s stamp. Betsey may be the last one to leave a party, but she always has the most fun. And it’s tough not to love that.

DKNY: It’s possible that Donna Karan has too much karmic respect to guffaw at a Dorothy Parker zinger. (“You can lead a horticulture, but you cannot make her think.”) OK, she might. Whatever the case, Karan channeled the era of Ms. Parker’s famed Round Table with her presentation at the Algonquin Hotel. In good spirits, even while balancing on crutches and trying to keep her black cashmere shawl on her shoulders, the designer played host to a crowded room. “We’ve always done uptown and downtown,” she cracked. “Now we’re doing midtown.” Well, Donna, we only wish that midtown actually looked like this.

The rich array of fall colors — burgundy, chocolate, navy — played well in the richness of the setting. Karan cited a theme of opposing forces. Masculine tweed and corduroy jackets nipped at the waist were the perfect counterweight to the feminine ruffled chiffon, jacquard and beaded skirts and dresses. But lofty literary references and fashion rhetoric aside, DKNY’s ultimate success happens when the cash register rings. This push and pull made for a wide range of great pieces that will no doubt sound a resounding “Ka-ching.” Romantics will love a rich paisley printed dress with soft ruffles and the navy-and-gold jacquard skirt that made best use of a potentially difficult fabric. And for their harder-edged sisters — the aforementioned jackets, a chic little shrunken peacoat and natty pinstripe trousers.

Sass & Bide: Sass & Bide designers Heidi Middleton and Sarah-Jane Clarke should have modeled their fall wares themselves, pregnant bumps and all. When the designers — wearing exactly what the models wore, along with with piled-on accessories and spiky, big hair — stepped out to take a bow, they made sense of everything that came before. Both are outrageous, fun, rock ’n’ roll and very, very cheeky. With them, it’s about personality and not the clothes. And it’s only that type of girl — larger-than-life and unafraid — who can pull off Sass & Bide’s dresses and tops with harness details or oddly placed grommets, which means it’s not quite for everybody. Too many straps flew around or dangled, detracting from otherwise well-structured jackets and pants, while yellow piping went here and there for a Tron-like effect on swingy dresses.

Middleton and Clarke secured a solid red-carpet fan base with their first two collections, but if that clientele is to include the nonboldfaced fashion types, the duo needs to rein in the tendency to overdo a look. They should take their strength — tough chic glam — and build from there. Their finale, a layered wrap dress with bright yellow flowers played against liquid black, is a good place to start.

Reem Acra: The show got off to a promising start at Reem Acra, as her antique embroidered tulle dress, sequined coats, lace sheaths and embroidered chiffon coats came down the runway. All of these were simply shaped, embellished beautifully and in a rich palette of copper and brown. The glitter pitch was just right in the saucy gold macramé- and tassel-fringed mini, paired with a skinny gold lace top. But then Acra wandered off course. Her lamé HotPants and a plunging lamé embroidered gown looked dated, and her use of gold in these pieces offered more glitz than glamour. It’s hard to understand the disparity between the first segment and much of what followed. Yet, there were some moments when Acra’s talent for the understated side of glamour appeared, most often in black with her dance dress in lace, tulle and velvet, or the embroidered slipgown. When it comes to evening collections like this, even with all its shimmer a given, it’s crucial to remember that more is not necessarily better.

Diane von Furstenberg: Russian literary heroines inspired Diane von Furstenberg’s fall collection, women — she wrote in her program notes — known for their fragility and strength. She forgot one key trait that saw many such gals through their complicated travails, a trait she shares with them by the bushel — cleverness.

Diane is one savvy lady, whose hard-core realism has served her well. So here’s to her heroines, but don’t expect them to Trotsky around in full-on, fur-laden Julie Christie regalia. Rather, enjoy von Furstenberg’s appropriation of foreign elements for her very own. Who else would open a Russian reverie with a black jersey dress, made faux-austere with military touches? Von Furstenberg went on to offer a minibouquet of dresses in black, countering their low-key allure with vibrant jacquards and prints.

Throughout, she worked the contrast of masculine and feminine, although, truth be told, her heart’s with the latter. Thus, she indulged her penchant for peasantry — now something of a signature — with invitingly casual tiered full skirts. Diane knows where to put the volume — and where not to: hence, a shapely caftan dress that someone might actually want to wear. When she did break out the tailoring, it was with considerable élan and a subliminal take-charge attitude. This went two ways: casual with a twill and fake-fur jacket over trousers, and polished to perfection in a silvery tweed coat and suit. Either way, it made for high chic in this so-smartly controlled game of Russian dressing.

Dana Buchman: Just because real women need realistic clothes doesn’t mean she has to skimp on the fashion flourishes. Just ask Dana Buchman, whose mission, it would seem, is to wardrobe a gal for all the comings and goings of modern life. When her lady wants to sparkle at the office she’s got plenty to choose from, such as a pretty pleated pink chiffon blouse, sharply fitted tweed trousers or a trumpet skirt and shrunken sequined cardies. When feeling a little racy, she can pair Lurex knits with swingy pleated chiffon skirts printed in either cheetah or oversized paisley. Buchman also knows that all work and no play isn’t what her customer is all about, and to that end she delivered evening looks such as a simple tank paired with a floor-sweeping ballskirt in black, ornamented with silk flowers and feathers at the hem.

Jill Stuart: Eliza Doolittle lives! She’s in a drafty Rivington Street loft with her hot — but good-for-nothing — boyfriend and a closet full of Jill Stuart. Because, you know, that’s what cool girls wear. For fall, Stuart chucked out any remotely girly color and started with a black and deep blue and purple canvas. From there, she infused her signature Victorian template with a tougher, sexier edge via sheer laces and wide embroidered belts. For once, the ever-present sequins, bows and ruffles took a backseat to the silhouettes, mainly structured jackets, collared blouses and pants so skinny they looked painted on. There was a stream of layered skirts done in laces, velvet and a habberdasher’s striped silk, and even these stayed within the overall dark and broody mood. Such studied cool takes practice and Stuart has had plenty — a career’s worth.

Luca Luca: It was a little touch and go at the beginning of Luca Orlandi’s Luca Luca show. But that’s only because an entire section of editors was nearly knocked out by the horde of hungry photographers trying to get to the Hilton sisters who arrived, natch, at the last possible moment. Nicky and Paris wedged in near Anne Hathaway, Elisha Cuthbert and sweethearts Rebbeca Romjin and Jerry O’Connell, who suffer from too much PDA. Things calmed down, though, with Orlandi’s first exit — a cherry red knit top and rose jacquard skirt — which set the tone for the rest of his luxe collection.

Orlandi’s focus? Courting the Upper East Side ton. So his points of reference were Ottoman princesses, Russian czars and Rajasthani maharajas, which he translated through plenty of gold and blush jaquards and brocades and shimmering silks. It all came together in his outerwear. He worked in subtle military silhouettes, and what girl wouldn’t enlist for those plush cropped peacoats jazzed up with gold belts? In the audience, more than a few heads nodded approval at the fur-trimmed blush brocade coat that was princess minus the precious. Under those beautiful pieces, though, Orlandi relied too much on pouffed skirts and overpleated dresses that could be a tricky sell to anyone even remotely hippy. Nevertheless, it’s great to see Orlandi develop the ladylike approach he embraced last season and that could be a building block for the future.

Luella: “The Luella girl’s got a touch of the nerd this season,” began Luella Bartley’s liner notes, before explaining in detail exactly how she planned to transform geek into chic. While Bartley has always been good at subverting English propriety with a dash of cheek, her fall outing made the point particularly well. What else would the coolest girl in school wear when going out to sneak a smoke if not a high-necked Luella blouse with an outsized bow or placket of ruffles? Even with out-of-sight necks and those knees obscured by sensible skirts, these clothes managed to be sexy. Certainly, a high-heeled tasseled loafer in black or red patent doesn’t hurt the cause. For after-school, an oversized washed-out “graffiti” floral was fabulous in skirts and a strapless dress, as were the pleated chiffon dresses. But you can’t win them all, and the garish silk party dresses did not fare as well.