At N.Y. fashion shows, black jacket becomes 'it' piece for fall

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The myriad designs parading on the runways of New York Fashion Week converged on one standout style-savvy look for fall and winter 2013: the black jacket.

Ubiquitous in the latest collections, the jacket appeared with a boxy silhouette, swingy lines or oversized shoulders, but the black was non-negotiable. It was by far the dominant color among the hundreds of fall and winter women's collections unveiled by designers at the semi-annual extravaganza.

New York Fashion Week, which is followed by similar events in London, Paris and Milan, concludes on Thursday with shows by Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren.

In shows this week, the black jacket appeared tuxedo-style with contrasting satin lapels, as a bolero, in edgy motorcycle cuts, playfully cropped at the waist, as a tailored blazer, as a blouson and with ruffles at the waist. Among designers highlighting the piece were Nicole Miller, Yigal Azrouel and Kenneth Cole.

The black jacket was paired with skirts, most of them pleated or pencil, and trousers that veered between slim and slouchy.

Fur was omnipresent - in narrow neck pieces, stoles, snoods and wraps and adorning everything from anoraks to evening gowns.

Michael Kors, who showed his collection on Wednesday, slashed and belted a black mink stole, and his models donned over-sized fur hats with ear flaps.

Designer Carolina Herrera dyed fur wraps and collars in eye-catching reds and greens. Douglas Hannant, who also showed on Wednesday, trimmed a women's tuxedo with a mink collar.

"Furs are so prevalent, it's unbelievable," said David Wolfe, creative director of The Doneger Group fashion consultants.

"It's luxury and drama and glamour, and it's escapism because we're still not out of the economic woods," he said. "This is kind of kidding yourself that everything is the way it was in the '80s when times were good."

The fall and winter collections were unexpectedly lush, said luxury consultant Robert Burke.

"It's not exactly a boom time period, but designers are designing like it is," he said.

Evening wear featured rich textiles and heavy ornamentation, especially in collections by Tadashi Shoji and Pamella Roland who took inspiration from old St. Petersburg in Russia and Naeem Khan who looked to 1920s Art Deco.

"If I'm a designer and I'm in a higher-end market, how do I differentiate myself from fast fashion? It's the ornamentation," said retail consultant Tom Julian.

Leather made a strong showing - cut into lacy evening dresses, folded into pleated trousers, trimmed into skinny leggings and even feathered into hemline flounces. Shearling was popular too.

Layering played a big role. Designers put short jackets over long shirts, letting the tails hang out the back, and brought out plenty of vests, from biker to brocade, as well as hoods.

"I was intrigued by the hoodie that gets layered with the cardigan that gets layered with the tunic that gets layered with the slicker," said Julian.

Necklines were high. Turtlenecks were popular, as were stand-up collars and bows tied at the front of the neck.

Accompanying all that black was gray, in versions dubbed fog, smoke, slate, pewter, gun metal, charcoal, lead and mercury.

For those craving a bit of color, a dark red described variously as oxblood, Bordeaux, Windsor wine, Merlot and wineberry made a subtle appearance, as did deep greens described as moss, malachite and viridian and purples named aubergine, amethyst, amaranth and black plum.

"Women who pass on the bright color are going to bite on these more sophisticated, darker, muted colors," said Wolfe.

(Additional reporting by Marguerita Choy, Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Andrew Hay)

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