NEW YORK - It's a celebrity! No, a model! No, a celebrity!
It was hard to keep the beautiful people straight at New York Fashion Week on Friday. Actresses Sara Ramirez, Ashanti and Rita Moreno all danced down the runway at the Red Dress Collection fashion show, while supermodel Gisele Bundchen cooled her heels in the front row at Rag & Bone, far away from New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and the Super Bowl scene.
Style and celebrity are regular handmaidens, but insiders were expecting extra wattage at Mercedez-Benz Fashion Week. The strike by The Writers Guild of America has left many actors without their regular work to do.
"People are saying that there are going to be more celebrities around this time because they all have so much time on their hands," said publicist Sandy Blye. "Last season there just was barely anyone. It was like, um, where are all the stars?"
On Friday, they were shimmying down the catwalk for Laura Bush's healthy heart campaign, then taking seats at other shows to watch the pros in action. Joss Stone, Cheryl Hines and Ana Ortiz sat in the front row at BCBG along with Tyson Beckford, Sophia Bush and Mary Lynn Rajskub of "24."
Fashionable fiction also came to life with a ribbon-cutting by the stars of "Lipstick Jungle" and a preview of the designs to be worn in the upcoming "Sex and the City" movie.
The eight-day preview of the fall looks of 100 or so designers runs through next Friday.
RED DRESS COLLECTION
Laura Bush's message encouraging women to exercise to keep their hearts healthy struck a chord with the celebrity models: Many of them danced down the runway.
This was the fifth time the anti-heart disease campaign came to New York Fashion Week, but there was no sign of fatigue — not from the cheering audience, the animated celebrities, the top designers lending their gowns or from the first lady herself. In fact, she hopes to keep working on the Heart Truth campaign next year when she leaves the White House. Perhaps she'll have more time then, she said with a smile.
"I don't know if I'll be quite this much in demand next year," Bush said.
Uber-model Heidi Klum, who rarely graces the catwalk these days outside "Project Runway," walked in the skimpiest dress — a short two-layer slip dress by Marc Jacobs with thin spaghetti straps.
"It came in the bag — I saw everyone else getting big gowns, hats — and I said, `This is it?'" Klum said. "It's small but it's cute. I like it."
SEX AND THE CITY
"Sex and the City" fans, get your studded belts now.
Costume designer Pat Field previewed four looks from the upcoming movie — one for each main character. She predicted that studded belts and the Christian Dior extreme gladiator-style sandals would be the trends that catch on.
Sarah Jessica Parker's Carrie gets to wear both, of course. Her fur coat from the TV series, which went off the air in 2004, will make a cameo appearance on the big screen, too, but most of the other clothes and accessories are new. "They're still the same girls — with modifications. Their style moved with the times," Field said.
Carrie's outfit on display at the Bryant Park tents was a rose-print, balloon-hem top with a matching pencil skirt, a hard-shell orange Fendi clutch purse and zebra-print Manolo Blahnik peep-toe shoes.
In the film, which hits theaters May 30, look for peep-toes on each of the characters.
The future of fashion is wrapped in hemp, soy, bamboo and old cashmere — and it looks pretty darn good.
The environmentally conscious nonprofit group Earth Pledge showed designs from two dozen top designers at the FutureFashion show Thursday night, ahead of the official opening of New York Fashion Week.
Francisco Costa of Calvin Klein created a hemp-based pantsuit with a long, sophisticated overcoat that surely would blend in with whatever he offers during his fall-collection preview, and Michael Kors' rugby-stripe dress made of recycled cashmere captured the designer's signature look.
Donatella Versace used a cream-colored hemp-silk fabric for a knockout gown with an open back and dramatic draping that was the finale piece.
Julie Gilhart, fashion director at Barneys New York, helped coordinate the show, and Barneys will display the one-of-a-kind outfits in its windows.
Max and Lubov Azria sent some mixed signals down the runway: There were complicated, intricate pleat details followed by the simplest shapes, shiny satins came after cozy cashmere, and brown and black were offset by flashes of teal and hot pink.
Apparently, the contradictions were done on purpose.
"The fall 2008 collection explores both modern femininity and the strength that comes with a confident sense of abandon," the husband-and-wife design team wrote in their notes.
The Azrias' devoted starlet fans, including Sophia Bush, Ana Ortiz, Christina Milian and Joss Stone, saw mostly dresses, both for daytime wear and cocktail parties, save the occasional wide-leg trouser.
Two of the best looks were the simplest: a cream-colored silk crepe dress with a draped neck and feminine sheath body, and a cashmere sweater dress with a single ruffle near the hemline.
The inspiration for Nautica's menswear collection is always the sea — even for the cooler months. Creative director Mirian Lamberth said the look for the fall line previewed at New York Fashion Week on Friday is her interpretation of ice sailing.
The show started with a pullover and pants made of high-tech fabrics topped with a nylon quilted vest that would have just as appropriate for a skier as a sailor. Next was Lamberth's favorite look, a peacoat in waterproof cashmere in navy worn with a yellow nylon vest, a chunky wool sweater with cable detail and a white cotton pant.
This wasn't the only white pant on the runway. Apparently in Alaska, there was never a rule about white after Labor Day.
Lamberth's top pick for shoppers is the peacoat. "You can never have enough peacoats — and there's so much innovation with them now with the fabrics," she said. "Any guy looks good in a peacoat."
Anna Jane Grossman contributed to this report.