Warm clothes for freezing city at NY Fashion Week

Tuesday - 2/11/2014, 1:02am EST

The Zac Posen Fall 2014 collection is modeled during Fashion Week in New York, Monday, Feb. 10, 2014. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- It was once again winter -- cold, cold winter -- that dominated the mood on the fifth day of New York Fashion Week Monday, with designers presenting variations of warm clothes on a particularly freezing day.

Carolina Herrera, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen's The Row, Kenneth Cole, Tommy Hilfiger, Thom Browne and Zac Posen were among the designers presenting their fall-winter collections on Monday.

Shows were being held at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week tents at Lincoln Center and at various locations throughout the city.

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FASHIONISTAS WORSHIP AT THE CHURCH OF THOM BROWNE

The crowd had been waiting more than a half-hour for Thom Browne's runway show to start on Monday, listening to loud, church-type music, when the lights finally dimmed and the music stopped. "Thank God!" a male voice yelled, and the place broke out in titters.

Browne, whose fashion shows are actually elaborate theatrical productions, had transformed the Chelsea gallery space into a giant church. Wooden pews filled the room. There were huge crosses on the walls. Candles burned, and the smell of incense wafted through. Everyone was simply waiting for the priest -- or someone -- to get things started.

Like most of Browne's shows, once it did get going, the clothes bore little resemblance to what he would actually put in stores.

Models with white-haired wigs walked very slowly and stiffly down the runway, wearing garments that were beautifully made but frankly looked like the entire costume collection from a Tim Burton movie. The clothes -- long skirts and jackets, mostly -- had a vaguely Victorian feel, but also hyper-exaggerated elements like absurdly long sleeves or crazy puffed-out shoulders.

They were gorgeous, though. So if Browne wants to put on a theater presentation rather than a practical runway show, why not? Let's remember that Michelle Obama wore Thom Browne during last year's inauguration, and she didn't look anything like these wacky characters. Thom Browne the actual designer is a wholly different creature than Thom Browne the showman.

--Jocelyn Noveck, http://www.twitter.com/JocelynNoveckAP

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ZAC POSEN'S GORGEOUS GLAM GOWNS

Zac Posen says he was more disciplined as he created his latest collection: He limited his choice of fabrics, and he limited his color palette, too.

But he certainly didn't limit the glamour quotient. You could practically hear the swooning when he sent out his beautifully draped, spectacular yet unadorned gowns to close out his runway show Monday.

Posen doesn't need sequins or crystals to enhance a dress. He can do a whole lot with something like pleats, which were perfect in a tangerine taffeta strapless ball gown, for example. A sea-foam silk strapless "architectural" gown evoked nothing less than a sense of being at Versailles. Without the jewels.

"This was all about elegance," Posen said in a post-show interview. "It was about line and form. I had to be disciplined. It was a tight edit."

The show began with more practical styles for daytime: A tweed suit in crimson, and a black wool coat that looked tightly tailored in front, but billowed out in back. The daytime look segued into cocktail hour, with a chic off-the-shoulder dress in ruby, and a strapless cocktail dress in a muted color Posen calls anthracite.

And then came evening styles: an opera coat in jet-black wool, for example. And then those gowns, with their grand silhouettes.

It was a nice reminder that when a dress is as expertly cut as some of these, you really don't need anything more.

--Jocelyn Noveck, http://www.twitter.com/JocelynNoveckAP

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MET MUSEUM PREVIEWS NEW ANNA WINTOUR COSTUME CENTER

Charles James isn't exactly having a runway show this week. But the late mid-20th century designer of spectacular, sumptuous ball gowns did have his Fashion Week moment on Monday, in the presence of Vogue editor Anna Wintour and other top fashion writers and editors.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute hosted a teaser of its next show, "Charles James: Beyond Fashion," which opens May 8 and will be the debut exhibit for the newly named -- and totally redesigned -- Anna Wintour Costume Center (previously known as the Costume Institute).

James designed from the late 1920s until his death in 1978, and is known for his sweeping gowns. Christian Dior once called him "the greatest talent of my generation," Monday's crowd was told.

To give visitors a taste of the exhibit, several of James' gorgeous gowns were on display. The piece de resistance: A model floated through the room to exhibit an intricately recreated version of James' grand, black-and-white Clover dress, to show better than any film clip how the dress moved when worn.