New York Fashion Week colors defy 9/11 gloom

New York Fashion Week opened Thursday with a promise of vibrant colors to shake off the inescapable shadow of the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The spring 2012 shows have another refreshing aspect to them this year: greater access than ever online for fashionistas wishing to watch not just from the comfort of their own homes, but on their smart phones.

Instead of having to get into fashion HQ at the Lincoln Center in Manhattan, fans can get virtual front row seats through YouTube, where some 30 designers, including Oscar de la Renta and Marc Jacobs, will show live coverage on http://www.youtube.com/liverunway.

Then there's Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites catering to the high-tech, high-fashion deluge.

"I've already seen three shows from my bed," rejoiced one fashion-conscious Tweet.

The first designers to hit the catwalk were Nicholas and Christopher Kunz with their Nicholas K brand, featuring men and women in fluid outfits of green, grey and brown.

Kitted out in hoods, scarves, short trousers, long shorts - and bleak expressions - the models looked ready for desert expeditions, or a very relaxed war.

For BCBG Max Azria, the runway sparkled with yellows and oranges as models flitted in long, silky dresses with thigh-high slits, sandals, and an elegant, romantic look.

Instant reviews from fashion bloggers indicated the first hit of the shows.

Richard Chai splashed coral onto men's jackets and stripes for dresses, along with neon stripes on shoe soles.

More than 250 designers are taking part in New York fashion week, which runs until September 15 and will see shows by Jacobs, Diane Von Furstenberg, Donna Karan and Tommy Hilfiger.

A dozen first-timers will star, including Pink Tartan, a collection inspired by French screen goddess Brigitte Bardot, while Felipe Oliveira Baptista makes a debut as new artistic director for Lacoste.

New York is the first stop in a month-long style marathon that will take the fashion world's elite to London, Milan and Paris.

Overshadowing the shows in the Big Apple is the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

However unlike a decade ago, when the annual fashion extravaganza was cancelled following the attacks, the schedule will run unchanged on Sunday, when President Barack Obama and others are in New York to remember the nearly 3,000 dead.

"It's such a hard day to think about yet it's so ever-present and it never leaves us," said the director of Fashion Week, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff.

"It's a business. And we look to commemorate that time, but with respect to what happened and with respect to the industry, the show ultimately does have to go on," she said.

On Thursday night in New York thousands of fashionistas were to celebrate the yearly Fashion's Night Out, when some 1,000 stores stay open into the night and designers and models spice up the crowds.

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