New York’s key looks and trends

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The Sixties, stripes and softly tailored sportswear meant that the shows in Manhattan last week were as bright as they were bold

Alexander Wang

Alexander Wang was keen to make a powerful statement with his show finale. Last season, it was a clutch of semi-retired supermodels; this season, nine bleach-browed blondes in white, croc-leather pencil skirts and knit shorts scattered across the runway and, as the lights went out, they glowed in the dark. A version of fishing wire held panels of clothing together as if they were the individual parts of a model aircraft still in their sprues, while knee-high, cut-out sandals gave a similarly tough and futuristic impression.

Tommy Hilfiger

The Tommy Hilfiger show was like going on a lovely date: it took place in the evening on the High Line – a disused rail track which has been converted to a verdant public walkway on the west side of Manhattan. Lanterns illuminated the entrance and the breeze provided welcome respite. It was also a fun date: slouchy silk suits with oversized shirts in rope or spot print, and patchwork trousers with Breton-striped hoodies felt youthful and easy. Lattice lacing on canvas dresses nodded to the holiday wardrobes of Seventies sirens Jackie O and Lauren Hutton.

Victoria Beckham

Victoria Beckham has said that she would like each of her collections to surpass its predecessor, and that is exactly what is happening. She opened with a quartet of floppy-brimmed hats by Stephen Jones atop fluid looks in monochrome and orange, and the collection was made of luxurious fabrics. Crisp white shirts and tailored jackets added a previously untapped masculinity, while the signature bodycon dresses remained, and were made more sensuous with purposefully visible, built-in bras. Her collaboration with Manolo Blahnik was a great success: flat sandals and flat buckled shoes for the first time in a Beckham show.

Diane von Furstenburg

Can you ever have too much colour? The spirited combinations of prints and block colours at Diane Von Furstenberg's spring '13 collection reminded us that she doesn't believe so. Her joyful approach to living is infectious and the models smiled as they walked down the catwalk, as she did when she took her bow – picking up Google co-founder Sergey Brin on the way in celebration of a new partnership with the epic online enterprise.

DKNY

Young designers could learn a lesson in consistency from DKNY: take a theme and investigate every possible nuance of it ad infinitum. Ideal citywear pieces included a loose denim jumpsuit worn with the top half tied around the waist, Bermuda shorts and a cool cap. Bumbags were practical for carrying your essentials close to the body – safety in chic.

Marc Jacobs

There was a sexy energy in the Park Avenue Armory on Monday evening. Audience members walked briskly to their seats knowing that it would start promptly and 13 minutes later, it was all over and they were left a little breathless. The show opened with mini-dresses so short that knickers were visible, and moved into bare midriffs and long key-hole dresses. The clothes weren't creative flights of fantasy, but rather very precise, Sixties cool. Details you'll want for your wardrobe included winklepickers, scalloped hems, bell sleeves, harlequin collars and stripes of varying widths and orientations.

Thakoon

Cherry blossom and birdcages, silk duchess satin and crêpe de Chine in abundance formed the foundations of an unashamedly romantic collection at the Thakoon spring 13 show. Softness also came in filigree chiffon shirtdresses layered with cotton and light knits. Thakoon Panichgul's vision of womanhood as classically elegant but for a few small quirks remains consistent season on season, and he's capable of experimenting with new prints and proportions without losing his identity as a designer. Perfectly pleasant.

Michael Kors

Stripes are having a moment. Having appeared at Marc Jacobs and Tommy Hilfiger earlier in the week, they also strolled down the runway at Michael Kors. His also came with a hit of the Sixties; and in Beano colours (although it's not confirmed whether Kors would understand that reference). Risqué pieces included a leather dress covered in metal grommets and skirts with thigh-high (or even higher) zip slit, and prettiness came from a digital cloud-print ensemble.

Marc by Marc Jacobs

Marc Jacobs took us forward 20 years in 24 hours. After the Sixties at his main collection on Monday, by Tuesday we were in the Eighties. Scarves were tied around waists, necks and heads; bangles were stacked; shirts and jackets oversized. Each look was an amalgamation of layered separates, delightful together, but also credible apart – in particular, the high-waisted pyjama trousers with rolled up cuffs. It felt carefree and bohemian, as if models had picked up their thong sandals in Japan, their patchwork scarves in North Africa and were back in New York heading to a dance class.

Calvin Klein

Francisco Costa was inspired by the beautiful Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy, who practically personified the label in the Nineties. Continuing an exploration of romance and femininity from last season – looking to the waist, the breast, as erogenous points of exploration through minimalism – this time, Costa also looked at shoulders and legs in strapless mini-dresses. The results are as captivating as Bessette-Kennedy was. Costa has a clear sense of this woman and an exquisite restrained experimentalism in construction and fabric, which made the collection compelling.

Ralph Lauren

Last season's Downton-inspired period costumes were replaced with a South American soap opera; Ralph Lauren knows how to have a good time creating characters for his clothes. Where shirts, ponchos, fringed shawls, cropped, embroidered boleros and suede jodhpurs began, red hot off-the-shoulder evening dresses ended. Lauren marches to the beat of his own drum, and wherever his personal narrative takes him, his fashion empire follows.

Proenza Schouler

The Proenza boys Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez cited artist Gerhard Richter, tumblr, and images of swimming pools, waterfalls and protesters as their references. These were then manipulated with the sort of skilled construction that they are becoming known for. But this collection was bigger than the sum of its inspiration: notable were the leather/python mixes on sharp, boxy jackets, and perforated leather bonded to jersey separates. This was one of the most exciting collections of the week.

Agata Belcen is fashion editor of AnOther Magazine

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