NEW YORK — Carolina Herrera, a perennial favorite of Hollywood's A-list, offered a bit of quiet elegance for spring 2012, with flowing dresses, bare shoulders and simple silhouettes.
For daytime, Herrera on Monday offered short ladylike white skirts and dresses with bird prints in bright green and canary yellow, or brick red. Dresses in dizzying geometric patterns contrasted with clean black and white numbers.
For evening, body-skimming gowns were sleeveless or strapless, in shimmering silver, eye-popping yellow or emerald green.
"I love the idea of elegance and intricacy, but whether it is in a piece of clothing or a fragrance, the intricacy must appear as simplicity," the Venezuela-born Herrera has said.
Oscar-winning actress Renee Zellweger -- who often wears Herrera gowns on the red carpet -- was in the front row, dressed in subdued gray.
But rapper of the moment Nicki Minaj -- in a towering platinum wig and multi-colored pompom sweater -- scored the coveted seat next to American Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, the queen of the fashion set.
At the Betsey Johnson show, the models dared to smile on the catwalk, adding to the collection's laid-back sexy vibe. The 69-year-old US designer came out for her curtain call and did her traditional cartwheel.
On Sunday, when the Big Apple and the rest of the United States soberly marked the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, fashion week went on at the usual frenetic pace, with at least two dozen shows a day.
Diane von Furstenberg acknowledged the solemnity of the occasion by handing out small American flags to those in the front row at the end of her polished show.
Donna Karan, who unveiled her spring collection in a warehouse, with a New York taxi as a backdrop, sees women as sleek and sophisticated -- hair slicked back, often in black and white, for the beach, the office or a club.
Custo Barcelona, designed by brothers Custo and David Dalmau, did not disappoint with an off-the-wall combination of colorful prints for men and women, lots of metallic fabrics and holographic effects.
Fashion Week in the Big Apple runs through Thursday.
New York is the first stop in a month-long style tour that will take the fashion world's elite to London, Milan and Paris.
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