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A bigger, badder DKNY and animal kingdom at Thom Browne

Posted September 13

— New York Fashion Week heads into the final stretch Tuesday with plenty of big designers to come. It was DKNY's turn Monday, along with Zac Posen, Thom Browne and others.

The fresh design team at DKNY focused on the future with a bolder collection than the legacy looks of yore by Donna Karan, and Posen spoke in garden shades and prints, putting a contemporary edge on classic cocktail and evening looks with technical fabrics, embroidery and beads.

Some highlights:

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LEGACY SHMEGACY: IT'S A BIGGER, BADDER DKNY

Dear Donna Karan, the guys have finally done it.

After taking over Karan's iconic New York-centric DKNY, designers Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow of Public School have broken through her legacy with a bold, street collection that screamed them and not her, shown on the elevated High Line park on the city's first crisp evening of fall.

With Teyana Taylor, Russell Westbrook, Tinashe and hip-hop's Fabolous on the front row — along with a smiling Karan herself — the duo turned the DKNY logo on its ear by hanging fringe all over its letters, with the message on some pieces: "New York is the new New York."

From suiting to knits, they called it a "solutions-based foundation to the millennial wardrobe," though we'll see whether their colored leather fanny packs catch on.

Osborne and Chow founded their own label in 2008, taking on DKNY the first time for last year's spring collection soon after they were hired by LVMH, which bought DKNY in 2001. Chow, for a little context, is the older of the two designers and was 11 when Karan launched her Seven Easy Pieces.

So how did they put their own stamp on the beloved label? They used transparencies to free themselves up, along with caution signal orange, little bandeau and bra tops, mesh, bike shorts and hoods, hoods, hoods in a finale that had the models — led by Bella Hadid — stomping down the center of the park created out of an old elevated rail line.

Some pants were sliced, others baggy, and still others tight at the ankle with elastic.

And the sky-high boots. Well, they were rubbery and platformy in white, bold blue and black. Osborne and Chow carried Karan's fondness for logo placement into the rubbery shoe part. The leg part was a stretchy looking jersey.

Forget the past.

Said the designers in their notes: "We like to think about what's next."

--Leanne Italie

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BATHING BEAUTIES AND A DISCO DOG, AT THOM BROWNE

Every time Thom Browne puts on a fashion show, the room is buzzing with anticipation. What will fashion's ultimate showman — and a master craftsman, too — come up with this time?

On Monday afternoon, the crowd entered Browne's Chelsea gallery venue to find a brightly tiled and multi-hued space — not unlike a swimming pool, but with the water drained out. Hmm. Was this a bathing suit display?

Suddenly a gaggle of models came out in brightly colored floral cover-ups and old-fashioned, pouffy bathing caps, carrying large totes — as if out for a day at the pool. They were guided around the space by four birds — two parrots and two seagulls, to be exact — and four cats, all male models with animal heads. (It's a tribute to Browne's menswear know-how that he can make a man look hip even wearing a cat head.)

Gradually the models stepped out of their robes to reveal their real outfits: suits in black and white and in gorgeous pastels, with jackets and ties and shirts. But they were actually one-piece dresses, only appearing to be suits through ingenious trompe l'oeil work (literally, tricking the eye.) The models — who wore bright blue or white pasty lipstick, making them look thoroughly other-worldy — slowly paraded around the room.

Watching over the proceedings was a figure that can only be described as a disco dog goddess. Yes, a disco dog goddess. She was dressed in shimmering silver, with a dog head on top that resembled a disco ball.

Browne later confirmed the obvious: This figure was a nod to his own beloved dog, Hector. (The real dog was somewhere on the premises, posing for photos.)

There was yet another reveal coming. Aided by their animal friends, each model then slipped out of her suit-dress via a zipper in back. And suddenly, they were all in matching bathing suits of red, white and blue. They lowered themselves to the floor and struck a pose. The crowd broke into applause.

"I was thinking about swimmers in the '50s and '60s," Browne explained. "Taking the idea of a wetsuit for guys and making it for girls, in trompe l'oeil tailoring.

Hector, no doubt, approved of the results.

--Jocelyn Noveck

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ZAC POSEN OFFERS EDGIER LOOKS IN VIBRANT HUES

Rounding shoulders and draping backs, he put out a spring collection worthy of any fancy garden party.

His vibrant hues of red, pink, green and yellow came in edgier prints and more technical fabrics, with a bit of transparency here and a dose of glass beads there.

Posen, in a backstage interview Monday, described it as "Gracy Kelly meets Easy Rider," all inspired in part by the contemporary art he's been enjoying lately and the beds of perennials he planted for his mother.

And all true to his house, with a feminine but more modern feel than previous collections.

An off-the-shoulder column gown came in neon pink. A sparkly berry floral was used for a strapless cocktail dress. He put cap sleeves on a tea-length shirt dress the color of primroses and constructed a brocade blazer in citrus green, paired with a skinny biker pant in the same shade.

Models wore flat sandals, including some to match the clothes.

Some of Posen's pleating billowed on his thin models, lending bulk and exaggerating areas of the body more average-size women may prefer to leave alone, the derriere among them.

But who doesn't need a go-to glitter pink paisley tulle gown?

On other Zac fronts, he's about halfway through his first cookbook, having gained a home cook rep among fans on Instagram after years of posting his culinary accomplishments. The title matches his favorite hashtag: "Cooking with Zac," and he grows a lot of his own ingredients.

A variety of cuisines will be included, "from rustic to refined," Posen said.

--Leanne Italie

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