Vera Wang serves up flirty florals for next winter

Vera Wang's vision of next winter is ultra-feminine -- on Tuesday, she sent out a structured collection of chic cocktail dresses and sharp trousers in brocade, floral silks and lush satin.

Wang, whose evening wear and bridal gowns are highly coveted by Hollywood A-listers, played with cut and structure, elongating the sleeves of a little black dress and cropping the hems of asymmetrical short skirts.

Black and beige are the colors of the season, with pops of purple and bronze in floral silks brightening the wintry mood. Long gloves past the elbow or a fox cape added a dash of refinement for late-night Manhattan soirees.

"Different scales, different proportions, different colors -- that mixture was for me sort of a new way of looking, in a much simpler way," Wang said backstage after her show at the Lincoln Center.

The combination of "texture, pattern, color and proportion" helped her create "clothes that embrace sexy, easy glamour," she explained.

Tory Burch, the queen of ballet flats and handbags, unveiled a luxurious, romantic collection for next winter in rich jewel tones, which she said was inspired by the work of Austrian symbolist painter Gustav Klimt.

The 46-year-old American designer offered prim tweed skirt suits, bejeweled cardigans, gauzy dresses in pale pink and bold printed silks. Necklaces featured shiny insect motifs. Mary Janes are the must-have shoe for next fall.

"It was a bit Art Nouveau, and Gustav Klimt and Rene Lalique, and some of the elements of his beautiful crystal and dragon flies," Burch told AFP backstage.

"I wanted to have special pieces that take you from day to evening. Women are busy, so the idea of having (something) that will work during the day but also that you can go out in makes it simple."

On how her clothes appeal to women of all ages, Burch said: "Younger women are making it a little edgier and older women can wear it in their own way."

Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte had a more West Coast rock-and-roll take on winter wear. After last season's medieval punk, the California sisters showed long fluid dresses in bold tie-dyed and acid-washed fabrics.

"There's definitely a reference to the Grateful Dead, but that's part of a culture" fueled by beach life in northern California, said Laura Mulleavy. "If you have tie dye, you have acid, you have roses, you have barbed wire."

Jackets were heavy, while shorts were long and hanging from the slender hips of the pale-skinned models, their eyes rimmed with kohl.

At J. Crew, one of First Lady Michelle Obama's favored labels, the emphasis was on the accessories -- bold costume jewelry, clutches and sparkly shoes.

Womenswear designer Tom Mora explained that Morocco had inspired him to create clothes for women in bright colors, with an array of textures and patterns.

Later Tuesday, all eyes will be on the show by the legendary Oscar de la Renta, who made headlines last month by offering disgraced British designer John Galliano the chance to work with him for a few weeks in New York.

Galliano, the onetime superstar at Christian Dior seen as one of the most brilliant fashion minds of his generation, saw his career crumble after an anti-Semitic outburst in a Paris bar led to his sacking by Dior in 2011.

The flamboyant 52-year-old designer, who has admitted to a drinking problem and sought treatment, was convicted of anti-Semitism and fined in France later that year.

"I like hearing what he thinks should be changed and improved about each piece we are showing in the fall collection," the Dominican-born de la Renta, 80, told New York Magazine.

"I would love for him to stay. Will he? I cannot tell you that today. Because we haven't gone that far in really discussing it... We're still exploring."

New York Fashion Week, which wraps up on Thursday, features more than 300 shows and presentations of autumn-winter collections for 2013-14.

It is the start of a month-long style marathon, with shows in London, Milan and Paris to follow.