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Georges Chakra sent brightly coloured chiffon gowns down the catwalk.
Georges Chakra sent brightly coloured chiffon gowns down the catwalk.

Designers take a leisurely approach

New YorkHome is where the heart is at New York Fashion Week as designers take a laid-back approach.

With the intermittent drizzle and misty weather making it hard to think about work, show attendees favoured clothing fit for the private confines of home. But who can blame them? The dreary atmosphere isn't exactly the most ideal time to frantically run around town, and judging from the boudoir-inspired and lounge get-ups seen on the wet streets and the catwalks, it seems that today, home is where the heart is.

The first order of the day was Lacoste at the Bryant Park tents. Tennis was an appropriate leitmotif considering the French brand's origins and the finals of the US Open that are also taking place in New York this weekend. But the label also showed some boxy cotton tops perfect for that unhurried weekend look that's appropriate for having friends over on Sunday morning. Georges Chakra, by contrast, thought of entertaining as a more glamorous affair with brightly coloured chiffon gowns that are perfect for a socialite extravaganza.

Jeremy Laing's presentation was held on the top floor of Milk Studios, which had large windows allowing the overcast sky to add gloomy drama to his beautiful, texturally rich and architectural outing. The collection featured a black tank and floor-length skirt made from black lace and nude viscose; trousers with droopy, pyjama-like proportions; and tulle slips underneath pencil skirts. While Laing's collection offered minimal accents to this trend, the fashionistas milling around the presentation wore get-ups that included tight lace tops underneath smoking jackets and long, transparent cardigans redolent of a robe.

Staying indoors would have been the best thing to do on this wet day, but this isn't an option for stylists, journalists and retailers. Perhaps it's a matter of kismet or just sound strategic planning, but whatever the case may be, Richard Chai showed his lower-priced line for women and men back-to-back (with an intermission), saving hard-working industry folks a trip outside the Cedar Lake venue in New York's West Chelsea area. It certainly was a relief to attendees who mingled during the intermission in between shows. They included Chai's designing peers Phillip Lim and Robert Geller, and a cadre of power players including Lauren Santo Domingo and Fabien Baron of Interview magazine. For his womenswear line, called Love, he presented a cool collection marked by easy separates that are both utilitarian and feminine. There were also drawstring cotton trousers that appeared like sweat pants, layered T-shirt tanks and an outsize silk fuchsia V-neck top with rolled sleeves that gave a domestic vibe to the collection. While Chai's womenswear had more pieces that were on point with the homely trend, his menswear, featuring rolled thermals underneath shorts, had the same effortless air that is sure to create a strong demand considering its more commercial-friendly price point.

With Joseph Altuzarra and Band of Outsiders being held in the same building at Milk Studios, killing two birds with one stone delighted the fashion flock, too. In the crowd, a number of people were spotted who looked as comfortable in their apartment as they are on the streets. There was a couple spotted sporting sweat pants with tailored blazers, a woman with dishevelled hair wearing an embroidered duster over a skirt, and a woman with a long crepe de chine nightgown over torn denim shorts and under a tough leather jacket - probably the most stylish ambassador of the trend.

Altuzarra's show, which was held on the second floor, was well attended by the major players in fashion, including Stefano Tonchi and Cathy Horyn of The New York Times, Hamish Bowles and Meredith Melling Burke of American Vogue, and French Vogue's Carine Roitfeld along with her daughter Julia Restoin Roitfeld. Industry folks have been buzzing about this young designer, but the presence of Leighton Meester (a much-photographed actress of the wildly popular US television show Gossip Girl) and Rachel McAdams in the front row will give the label more mainstream appeal. The clothes, perhaps the best collection thus far, certainly did not disappoint. While Altuzarra delivered insatiably feminine dusty green dresses with woven geometric panels that served as vents, he also showed luxe pieces such as silk, harem-inspired pants and henley tops with gold buttons that can be integrated into a woman's wardrobe with a leisurely purpose.

Meanwhile, at Scott Sternberg's crowded menswear and womenswear presentation, called Band of Outsiders and Boy, respectively, he loosened up the line's slimmer approach to American sportswear. There were baggy sweatpants, a striped pyjama onesie under a large trench coat, and a slouchy button-down shirt, the sort you grab in the morning while you're on a beach holiday - a sunny imagery everyone was trying to hold on to before they headed into the gloomy weather outside.

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