Ralph Lauren took a whimsical journey to Spain on Thursday, while Francisco Costa for Calvin Klein went all-out with a structured, architectural look on the closing day of New York Fashion Week.
It was the 80th runway show for Lauren, a true American fashion design legend, and he celebrated the milestone in style with 61 flamenco-themed looks for next spring and summer in linen, silk, leather and suede.
"I am forever inspired by faraway exotic places," said Lauren, 72, on his Twitter account after the first of his two shows in Soho's Skylight Studios, where the fresh scent of floral bouquets greeted well-heeled invitees.
"I may never have traveled there, but in my imagination, it is real," added Lauren, who themed his fall-winter collection in February around visions of a stately English manor.
First down the runway was a turquoise suede poet blouse and skinny black double-faced wool pants, matched with a black leather hobo bag, platform sandals and a dark beret -- the latter appearing often in the collection.
Then followed suede jodhpurs in red and teal, a poncho-like multicolored silk wrap top, black sable and crepe de chine dresses, and a gold-beaded bolero worn over a black silk camisole.
For evening, Lauren presented a silk faille embroidered jacket over an organza skirt, a black suede jacket with leather tooling and a white cotton broadcloth skirt paired with a black embroidered tulle skirt.
"He comes alive at night," blogger Kristin Booker of fashionstylebeauty.com told AFP after the show.
"I think the day stuff was beautiful -- I loved the capes, I loved the shawls, I loved the hats -- but the evening stuff was breathtaking (and) I love it that he takes us around the world every year."
Vanity Fair writer Amy Fine Collins raved about the "classic Ralph Lauren" show. "A touch of the exotic, a touch of classic American -- and, mostly, Ralph," she said.
The contrast couldn't have been greater a few hours later at Calvin Klein, where Costa tested the limits of the label's signature minimal style with sharply structured looks for the high-end Calvin Klein Collection line available in any color so long as it's black or white.
Playing skillfully with pleats and panels, the 48-year-old Brazilian designer sent his models weaving at right angles through a darkened, spartan showroom in Midtown Manhattan, some looking like walking works of origami.
Conical bustiers and dresses -- none as severe as those of Jean Paul Gaultier in the early 1990s that Madonna made infamous -- came sleeveless, strapless or backless, matched with platform pumps or sandals.
Costa, formerly at Gucci, made extensive use of satin and silk for his 33 looks bookended by a matte satin scoop-neck dress and bustier at the start of the show, and a stain and gold sheer panel dress at the end.
Particularly eye-catching was an embroidered layer that Costa draped like a tailored fisherman's net over a white dress.