After somber start, color punctuates New York runways

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Indy Lifestyle Online

New York's Autumn-Winter 2010 presentations began in sadness, with the death of Alexander McQueen, but designers including Lacoste have showed color-saturated collections designed to dispel the deepest gloom.

News that McQueen had been found dead in London Thursday cast a shadow over the beginning of a New York fashion week already overcast with mixed emotions about the event's impending move from the now-beloved Bryant Park tents.

On Friday evening, the fashion world set aside their sorrows to pay tribute to and raise money for the people of quake-devastated Haiti with a special charity fashion show hosted by supermodel Naomi Campbell and the former duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson.

American Express, sponsor of the event, sold about a thousand tickets priced between 100 and 150 dollars to the celebrity-studded event.

Fashion icons including Campbell and Helena Christensen joined Agyness Deyn, Karen Elson and others to walk the runway in clothes by various designers, including McQueen, many of which will be sold on Net-a-porter.com from March 15.

But while the somber mood and the season being shown - Autumn-Winter - lent themselves to drab and subdued hues, more than a few designers showed collections punched through with swatches of positively triumphant colors.

Christophe Lemaire, artistic director for French label Lacoste, put together a women's and menswear collection that featured both sophisticated neutrals and bold jewel tones.

Structured, rich-looking cream and ivory jackets were paired with biscuit-toned leggings in cool, clean ensembles, but other models blasted down the runways in stoplight-red cropped jackets, turquoise skirts or mustard sleeves.

Here and there, playful touches of color appeared, including fushia gloves and pink or purple obi belts with winter-appropriate bobbles.

The French house known for the iconic crocodile label it has used for some 75 years is now working with organizations including the World Bank and the Global Environment Facility to protect endangered crocodile species worldwide.

The partnership, now a year-old, includes work to preserve the Gavial crocodile species. A first group of the crocodiles raised on a farm in Nepal are to be released into the wild in March and will be tracked via microemitters, Lacoste communications official Veronique Maudit told AFP.

The anxieties of environmentalists, or even those concerned about the continued economic downturn and rising unemployment seemed a million miles away at Georges Chakra's presentation.

The Lebanese designer, beloved by many a Hollywood starlet for red-carpet ready gowns, kept his base in mind with a collection that made clear references to old-school Hollywood glamor.

With barely a nod to the needs of a woman with anywhere to go but a party, he sent model after model clad in flowing eveningwear or abbreviated cocktail dresses down the runway.

Though he showed staple black evening gowns and subtly iridescent materials, including a pistol-gray gown sewn through with gold threads, Chakra too dispelled the winter doldrums with bold color.

He chose a head-turning blood red for pieces that ranged from sweet cocktail dresses to flowing evening gowns with ruffled chiffon that parted dramatically as models stepped forward, revealing a slit all the way up to the thigh.

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