Animal act: Goats, yes, bunnies, no LIVE FROM NEW YORK


After watching a model turn a runway into a moonwalk by

stripping out of a spacesuit down to a fluffy mohair thong at Laura Whitcomb, previewing naughty panties at the Ghost show, and braving drips in a storm that pelted Maria Snyder's show, it takes a lot to make the fashion press sit up and notice.

The daring thing at the New York fall designer collections is skirts cut at the knee, just the way your frumpy Aunt Minnie has always worn them. This time however, it's the young lines that are toying with the idea. They were shown at DKNY in flannel, and in wool denim and cotton at CK, the young labels presented by Donna Karan and Calvin Klein.

Marc Jacobs, the young designer darling who has not shown for a year since he left Perry Ellis, made mid-knee exciting at the small Soho showroom with attendance limited to select press, a sprinkling of fashion luminaries and all the top models. Gianni Versace was there with Donatella, his sister and muse wearing pink gingham. Esquire editor Woody Hochswender was there with a tot wearing patchwork rompers. The show burst with energy as hot pink, orange and kelly green vinylized jackets, sequined pants and minis hit the beat. Hot!

Laura Whitcomb's line, backed by Playboy, left the audience cold. She's the one who got attention for dressing Madonna in Adidas stripes and outfitting some of the top hip-hop artists. This time she hip-hopped into the bunny patch with some angora bunny suits, several featuring the famous Playboy rabbit logo. Her bustiers cut like NYPD flack vests and rescue squad toppers tried but couldn't save the show.

But elegance is alive and well. Richard Tyler's tailoring for Anne Klein has career suits and jackets to work for; Oscar de la Renta's paisleys are to die for. Kudos also to the thousands of goats who gave up their winter coats so fashionable women could itch into fall in mohair sweaters, dresses, coats, bras and evening gowns seen on almost every runway.

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