Holographs of models dressed in Ralph Lauren Polo are projected against a fountain on a lake in Central Park.
Holographs of models dressed in Ralph Lauren Polo are projected against a fountain on a lake in Central Park. (MCT)

After 10 days of fashion shows, it's hard to imagine there's a boundary left to push, a color that's gone unused or a silhouette that hasn't been relaxed. While the collections were all over the map (and in some cases, the maps were all over the collections), there were a few big takeaways from the spring and summer 2015 shows at New York Fashion Week, which ended Thursday.

Optimism is chic


If there is one phrase that sums up much of the spring season at New York Fashion Week, Michael Kors had it: "Optimistic chic."

His collection brought many of the week's trends together, including 1950s-inspired circle skirts and crop tops: garden florals and embroideries; natural hues; gingham checks; spare, simple accessories and shoes made for walking.

The Oscar de la Renta and Diane von Furstenberg collections had similar feel good vibes, with classic ladylike styles.

Flowers empower

Florals are a perennial favorite for the spring and summer collections, but the runways served up a bigger bouquet than usual. Floral motifs came in a range of forms: feathers arranged into a floral pattern on a coat at Thom Browne's garden-party-on-acid show, delicate yellow blossom embroideries on a sheer organza skirt at Kors and scattered stems printed on a fur coat at de la Renta.

On the men's side, Jack Spade mustered an urban army that included a chambray allover-floral suit and a flower-infused take on camo. David Hart's retro-inspired menswear included a pair of linen trousers with a bold palm print inspired by the wallpaper at the Beverly Hills Hotel, and J. Lindeberg's rock-meets-botany Biotopia collection included a black leather jacket with a back panel covered in white hand-painted daisies.

But it was Jeremy Scott's Psychedelic Jungle collection that served up the most fantastical flora of the week — acid-drenched aloha shirts, flower-festooned babydoll dresses, button-front shirts and patchwork pants with the kind of bold blossoms not seen since "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In" circa 1972.

Eclectic is in

Maybe it's the influence of street style filtering up to the runways, or the fashion machine's attempt at answering branding fatigue. But eclectic, as in quirky and individual-looking, once the primary provenance of a few choice fashion labels such as Prada and Marni, is now everywhere.

Creatures of the Wind designers Shane Gabier and Christopher Peters took inspiration from "the fantasy of travel to nowhere in particular," showing sportswear (a blue jacquard skirt with Swarovski embroidery) with enough indeterminate exoticism to be mistaken for a great find stumbled upon while on a grand adventure.

Donna Karan called the vision for her arty spring collection "spontaneous and spirited," and took inspiration from New York City's street art to create circle skirts and bra tops graffitied with scribbles, splashes and strokes of color and sequins.

Thakoon Panichgul used scattered embroideries and neon raffia fringe to create unexpected effects on his louche tropical loungewear and marine-striped knits.

Peter Som also embraced quirkiness, showing funky floral skirts and shirt dresses with decorative aprons over them. And Luella Bartley and Katie Hillier recaptured some of the magic of DIY rave kid fashion in their Marc by Marc Jacobs collection, with reworked sweatshirts, bandeau tops over T-shirts, polka dot skirts over Latex leggings, and rubber galoshes.

Even Victoria Beckham, queen of straight-laced, uniform dressing, let loose with overgrown pink blossoms on a trouser suit that looked straight off Carnaby Street.


The result? Fashion that makes you smile.

Busy is out

Busy, digitized prints have had more than their moment in the fashion sun.

Mara Hoffman moved on from the kaleidoscopic prints that have become her signature, showing a spring collection with culottes, crop tops and full skirts in faded gauze, cotton and linen. Creatures of Comfort designer Jade Lai created a clean sweep with relaxed, Hepburn-style pants and shirt dresses in earthy hues inspired by Agnes Martin's abstract paintings. And raw met refined in Tory Burch's no-fuss collection, in graphic-yet-simple jacquards, woven accents and modern-looking accessory designs inspired by Picasso's time in Vallauris.

All about ease

If there was a unifying theme to the men's collections this season, it was a sense of ease and comfort: billowy sweatshorts, relaxed suit silhouettes, slouchy layering pieces. It wasn't quite the cocooning of several seasons ago but something close — perhaps go-to-work clothes for the telecommuter. Billy Reid built his whole collection around the notion, with cotton/linen overshirts that hung past the hips and layered under slouchy cardigans, unlined linen blazers and trousers relaxed practically to the point of pajama bottoms. Menswear designer Lucio Castro had comfy hoodies crafted of vintage beach towels and shorts from slubby terry-like knits. Even leather-loving Skingraft joined the season's soft parade with a range of sheer silk, nylon and mesh pieces.

Crop tops take over

They have already taken over the Hollywood red carpet. During New York Fashion Week, they

took over the runways, too, at Kors, Von Furstenberg and De la Renta, where they channeled a retro Brigitte Bardot cool. Even Donna Karan, who invented the bodysuit to cinch it all in, showed bra tops in her collection.

Ugly footwear walks on

Teva-like, animal-patterned Velcro sandals at Trina Turk, orthopedic-looking slides at Coach, desert boots on the runway at Tory Burch, hand-painted Doc Martens at Jeremy Scott, Dr. Scholl's at Marc Jacobs, Converse high tops at Creatures of Comfort, saddle shoe slip-ons at Reed Krakoff and galoshes at Marc by Marc Jacobs. There's no doubt about it, marching into spring, shoes will remain resolutely comfortable.

Skinny no longer rules

The reign of skinny jeans is over. The newest denim is high waisted and flared as seen at Von Furstenberg, or cropped, distressed and full, as seen at J. Crew. Just don't call them mom jeans.

Grid lines are drawn

From Joseph Altuzarra's sinister-pretty, blue gingham shift dresses, sliced open and tied with ribbons, to Oscar de la Renta's navy gingham crop top and pencil skirt, to Proenza Schouler's grid blouses and deconstructed argyle knit tops, checks are in the mix for spring in a big way. And a few designers even found a way to meld the sharp geometrics of repeating squares and lines with something that felt a bit more organic — inspired by the city streets. At Jack Spade that meant bags bearing a navy-blue-and-white grid print inspired by aerial maps of New York City, and at Perry Ellis a runway full of prints creative director Michael Maccari said were inspired by the architectural grid of New York City.

A surfeit of seersucker

For decades, the lightweight summer fabric seemed only to be served up in a single flavor — pale blue and white vertical stripes. But now, designers are embracing puckers of many colors. A go-to fabric for designer Thom Browne, his women's show featured a towering trio of models on stilts wearing pale green and white seersucker suits with allover floral embroidery. Black Fleece, Browne's collaborative collection with Brooks Brothers, included a pale brown seersucker inspired by the hues found in Kodachrome film. At Brooks Brothers proper there was a range of non-traditional seersucker — horizontal stripes in a necktie, garment-dyed trousers and jackets and even a slim-fitting seersucker tuxedo in solid black that elevated the fabric from lawn party to Oscar party.


That made it all the more appropriate that Haspel, the company that lays claim to inventing the seersucker suit in 1909, made its New York Fashion Week debut. The presentation was less than a dozen looks, but that was enough to see that designers Jeff Halmos and Sam Shipley are trying to nudge the notion of seersucker into a new, hipper direction with a candy store's worth of colors.

Iridescence shines

L.A. designer Monique Lhuillier set out to capture the magic hour of sunrise in her spring collection, complete with a finale of opalescent flowers raining down on the runway. Sleek, scuba-inspired cocktail dresses, structured evening shorts, peplum tops and rompers came in washed watercolor hues of satin, with reflective embroidery, lame and lace details tapping into the season's iridescent trend. There was also plenty of shine at Rodarte, where Kate and Laura Mulleavy took inspiration from Monterey tidepools to create utility jackets and collage-y dresses embellished with iridescent sequins and shells. Even the J. Crew collection, a mix of utilitarian slouchwear and indigenous Latin American inspiration, had a touch of reflective glam, an iridescent orangey-yellow looped fringe skirt and shiny clutch bag inspired by electric summer nights in Ibiza.

Elegant utility

A tweedy denim miniskirt with a draped chiffon sash, worn with a sporty expedition vest at Prabal Gurung. A military green anorak jacket cinched over a blue print flounce miniskirt at Marissa Webb. A safari shirt tucked into a lemon yellow tulle ball skirt, and worn with colored jewels at Ralph Lauren. And military jackets and cargo pants dressed up with candy button-like embellishemnts at Marc Jacobs. Workwear is going glam.