By SAMANTHA CRITCHELL
AP Fashion Writer
You don’t need to be buttoned up to be the boss.
The styles shown Wednesday as New York Fashion Week neared its end showed women softening their edges — but keeping their confidence.
Among the designers showing Wednesday was Nanette Lepore, who is a native of Youngstown.
Lepore thinks we’re emerging from an edgier, harsher period into a new Romantic era.
In fashion, anyway.
And so her designs are full of what she calls “a softness, a sexiness, a boudoir feeling, a neo-Romanticism.”
Her preview was one of those collections that made fashionistas happy: Pretty, flouncy, colorful, wearable.
Her emphasis on softness came through in the very first garment — a pair of silky shorts with a flouncy ruffle, in a blush color but with a white stripe.
Lepore’s colors went from eye-popping, as in a bright poppy red and a crisp aqua, to subtle, as in a daffodil color akin to a minty green, and that pale blush. She also favored a floral print in many garments, including a distressed style that she said modernizes the look while keeping the softness.
At Michael Kors, the models resembled a secretary pool from the 1970s that had since moved into the corner office. Those bow blouses now have a luxury coat and handbag to go with them.
Gone are the minimalist, sharp-edged looks shown on so many runways for fall. There are looser, less restrictive outfits for spring that are more soft and feminine, but still grown up.
“You know it’s funny, last fall we had this very sharp, strong, urban collection, which really was for me this reaction to how fast life has gotten,” Kors said backstage before his show. “But sometimes I think life is a little too fast. And when we go out to dinner put your phone down, put your BlackBerry down, have a conversation. Write a thank you note, a real one. Walk down the street in the summer when the weather gets warm and wear something that catches the wind.”
Oscar de la Renta showed it’s possible to be feminine and still feel like you own the room. Vera Wang softened up her look with fabric petals. Gilles Mendel’s collection started with an inginue who grows in confidence and becomes a woman.
“She’s strong, she appreciates quality, she loves clothes. I like a celebration of this woman,” Mendel said at his J. Mendel show.
With a palette that includes mint and blush tones and softer blouson shapes, spring styles are for a woman who’s not afraid to wear a pink dress to the boardroom.
Even the bra tops appearing on so many runways are being paired with palazzo pants, not skinny jeans, making them almost — almost — office-appropriate.