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Word of advice for spring wardrobe: caution
Proceed cautiously with the blockbuster colors and riot of prints for spring
By The Associated Press

NEW YORK AP) ' The blockbuster colors and florals, geometrics and ethnic prints on the runways at New York Fashion Week may feel like game-changers in the moment. Then there's the rest of your life.

Once the looks move from the catwalk to the closet after this round of previews, women may need a little guidance on incorporating the prints, shots of neon and other new colors ' purple, yellow, aqua and orange ' into existing wardrobes, said Cindy Weber Cleary, fashion director of InStyle magazine.

If you can pull off scubalike body-conscious looks and short shorts, then go for it. Otherwise, look to the many shirtdresses and fuller skirts a variety of designers are going with for spring and summer, she said.



On Wednesday, the seventh day of shows, trends have become clearer: Prints, athletic inspirations, optimistic color, easy elegance, uneven hemlines and a little bit of the '60s over last spring's solid '70s disco vibe.

That said, there doesn't seem to be one specific muse.

Ken Downing, the senior vice president and fashion director of Neiman Marcus, said Michael Kors is among those designers to listen to his customers. As a retailer, that's his job, too.

"I love the dream of the runway, but I also love the reality of a women's wardrobe," Downing said.

Cleary's advice: caution.

"From a consumers' point of view, it's great to add an element of surprise to your wardrobe, but you can't do too much of a good thing," she said.

Perhaps this is the season for buying a few key updates, coupled with some staples, instead of a wardrobe-changing extravaganza. There are plenty of blacks and whites on the runways, too, to help out.

Fashion week moves to London on Friday, followed by Milan and Paris.

MICHAEL KORS

Pack your oversized, distressed leather bag: Kors plans to take his customer on safari.

The heavily textured, mostly muted-colored clothes Kors offered for women and men were inspired by the designer's three safari trips to Africa.

Kors told his models to step out on the runway like chic globe-trotters.

For their adventures, Kors suggests a womenswear wardrobe of hand-dyed caftans, ponchos and serape-style wrap skirts, worn with cashmere henleys and animal-print maillot swimsuits. For something a little dressier, Kors sent out dresses made of feathers hand-painted like leopard skin, and a tiger-print duchesse trench coat.

Calling the suede Bermuda-length jumpsuit with its slim, refined shape a "safari romper" didn't do it justice, and the zebra-print linen shift is the kind of laid-back piece Kors said he strived to do.

"I wanted dresses that feel as easy to throw on as a T-shirt," he said.

OSCAR DE LA RENTA

De la Renta doesn't hold back in an unsure economy. Maybe he doesn't have to.

Mixed among the typical fashion week crowd were private customers ' paying customers ' making notes about what they'd like to be wearing next spring.

For those women, de la Renta didn't disappoint, with shocking-colored Chinese lamb jackets paired with wide-leg trousers, silk bow-tie blouses and embroidered skirt suits, and the big ballgowns that they need for their jet-setter schedule.

But he also showed a desire to introduce himself to a new crowd, one that would appreciate the unfinished office space he used as a venue, one that would like the Led Zeppelin-infused soundtrack ' one that might seriously consider wearing the flower headband in her hair like the model wearing a hippie-ish, white faille-yellow chiffon embroidered gown.

OLIVIER THEYSKENS

He has no lofty, complicated vision for his Theory collection. He just wanted to make "clothes for cool girls."

Coming from someone else, that might sound a little geeky. But this is Theyskens, the 34-year-old fashion-world darling with the long hair and the slouchy jean shorts and the scuffed-up work boots. Anything he says sounds, well, fairly cool.

His collection was full of things you might see in New York's Meatpacking district: Slouchy pants that started well below hip level. Loose sweaters, see-through tops peeking from jackets. Linen or wool blazers over baggy pants. A soft gingham-style minidress.

There was a sense of haphazardness in the way outfits were thrown together, and Theyskens says that's what he was going for.

NARCISO RODRIGUEZ

Rodriguez is soft and sexy for spring.

The sexy part is almost a given for Rodriguez, whose architectural style usually makes for fashion-forward, formfitting styles. The latest collection, however, included a looser, more languid look.

Skirts sat at the hips and flowed below the knee from there. Dresses were easier and breezier than one expects from Rodriguez. A white shirtdress with touches of black, silver and aqua was particularly billowy in shape.

But his stamp was there, showing some skin, which the fashion week crowd hasn't seen all that much of for next spring. Bras in black as well as brights were meant to be seen under sheer and scarflike, backless tops.

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AP National Writer Jocelyn Noveck in New York contributed to this report.

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Samantha Critchell tweets fashion at http://twitter.com/ap_fashion


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