New York Fashion Week 2012: Alexander Wang, Nicki Minaj, And More

See photos from The Row, Alexander Wang and More Fashion Week 2012.

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New York Fashion Week’s Spring/Summer 2012 collections are off to a colorful start. And by colorful, we mean everything from neon ball gowns on the Jason Wu runway to the surreal floral prints at Prabal Gurung to the color of Nicki Minaj’s giant wig. See highlights from the first three days.

Robin Givhan, Jacob Bernstein, and Isabel Wilkinson contributed to this report.

Mike Coppola / Getty Images (3)

Jason Wu

The chiffon prints at Jason Wu were artistic indeed: they were the work of the pop artist KAWS, who has designed everything from skateboard decks to cans. His floating petal prints and “hands” motifs for Wu lent the collection a modern edge, which evoked a collision between 1950s and 1990s Pop Art. There was a bright pink peplum skirt that evoked Raf Simons’ creations for Jil Sander, elegant neon gowns aplenty, and more functional sportswear pieces like windbreakers and lightweight shorts. As Vogue.com’s Max Berlinger put it, Wu’s collection evoked a “markedly American sense of ease and grace.”

The Row

All eyes were on Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen on Friday, as they debuted their Spring/ Summer 2012 collection for The Row at the Baryshikov Art Center on 37th Street. Models circumambulated the perimeter of a large-wood room and a small audience sat on a single row of benches along the wall. Ashley and Mary Kate (who arrived at 5 a.m.) mingled and talked with their guests. The clothes were a more ethereal version of the Olsen’s signature minimalism: Crisp white trousers, filmy ivory chiffon pants under a long ivory and aqua tunic, easy cropped trousers and loose-fitting jackets. Every piece was worn with flat sandals. The flourishes included white buttons and shell wrist cuffs and ankle wraps. And the finale dress (right) included silver embellished slim skirt with a swing jacket –and an ivory caftan with silver floral embroidery.

Thomas Concordia / WireImage

Prabal Gurung

Prabal Gurung, the Nepalese designer heralded for several seasons as fashion’s next-“It designer,” officially entered his sophomore year Saturday. The collection he debuted, inspired by the work of Japanese photographer Nobuyoshi Araki, featured “surreal floral prints,” cutout dresses, sheer panels, and floral appliqué. Gurung’s accessories, too, were standouts: The shoes were metallic platform laceups (a collaboration with British shoe designer Nicholas Kirkwood) and sunglasses that seemed like they will oust Prada’s ubiquitous Baroque shades next season. Actress Amanda Seyfried, who was in the front row, raved about the collection. “I’m so impressed,” she said. “But this is my first Fashion Week—so I’m taking it slow.”

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Nicki Minaj Hits Fashion Week

By the third day of Fashion Week, Nicki Minaj had proven herself quite the style star. First, the rapper attended Fashion’s Night Out, where she visited the Giuseppe Zanotti and Versace boutiques wearing a black wig with chopsticks. Then, she surprised guests at Prabal Gurung’s show on Saturday, which was held in the IAC building (home to Newsweek/ The Daily Beast). Minaj entered the building with a posse – and swarmed by paparazzi—and quickly took her seat next to Isabella Rossellini’s daughter, Elettra Wiedemann. Minaj looked like a confection from the future: Pink cotton-candy hair, a pink and purple bra, a massive plastic necklace in the shape of a pretzel, and a giant pink bow. And the looks that came down the runway weren’t far off from something Minaj might wear herself: bright turquoise and opal dresses with surreal floral prints. But it was the collection’s final look – a “tulle illusion gown,” with a floral appliqué hem – that most caught her eye. “I loved it, but I don’t know if it’s going to look good on a little shorty person like me,” Minaj told The Daily Beast.  

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Friday Night Got A Little Rowdy

During Fashion Week, there’s always crossover with the art scene, as a slew of gallery openings happen during the week around the fashion shows. On Friday, that spot was Philips de Pury, where Vladimir Restoin Roitfeld (son of former French Vogue editor Carine) and Andy Valmorbida opened a show of Richard Hambleton paintings. Models Karolina Kurkova and Doutzen Kroes joined them at the auction house. Later, the crowd congregated downtown at the Indochine nightclub, where they partied late into the night. And there things got a little rowdy: W editor Giovanna Battaglia, for example, (left) threw off her shoes to climb on top of a table. The Daily Beast caught up with Margherita Missoni – the 28-year-old brand ambassador for Missoni, which will release a much-anticipated capsule collection for Target on September 13, and who said that if she has anything to say about it, Missoni’s collaborations with other brands have just begun. What does she want to cover in the famous print next? “I would love to do some vehicles like motorcycles or cars or Vespas,” she said. “I would love to do proper sportswear. There are a lot of things we haven't done that I would love to do. I would love to do pasta.”

Mary Altaffer / AP

Alexander Wang

At Alexander Wang, it was urban warrior chic-yes, more of that!-with fitted skirts and shorts and zippers. The collection was heavy on sportswear, with tight, floral hip-huggers and seemingly everything (or almost everything) had pouches. The front row, meanwhile, was filled with celebrities, among them Linda Evangelista and Courtney Love. But the front row's biggest name, Anna Wintour, was not in the house. Word had it that the Vogue editor had gone to the U.S. Open instead -- but one blogger caught a picture of the editor “chillin’ at a pizza joint in Chelsea." Nevertheless, an early, non-scientific sampling of opinion after the Wang show didn't indicate that the collection was going to be the subject of accolades either. "Not my favorite Wang collection," said one editor-in-chief in the house. And, of Wang’s multiple references to Nicholas Ghesquiere, one stylist said simply: "Too much Balenciaga!”

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Band of Outsiders

At the end of the Band of Outsiders show, staged in an alley beneath the Highline in Chelsea, confetti rained from above. In it, there were candy wrappers and fortune cookie proverbs. One read: “You will write a glowing review of a brand called ‘Band of Outsiders’ today. J” And from the looks of the collection, there’s little doubt about that. Creative Director Scott Sternberg presented two womenswear collections – for his labels “boy” and “girl.” The first label, Boy, is inspired by Peter Weir’s 1975 film Picnic at Hanging Rock, about four schoolgirls who disappear while on a picnic. “I wanted to put that girl in New York City,” Sternberg said after the show. The collection he sent down the runway was just that, evoking something feminine and simultaneously eerie. There was a cotton shirtdress, several pairs of suspenders, black leather britches, and a red-striped double-breasted blazer. Girl, on the other hand -- which consisted of ephemeral embroidered cotton dresses and printed silk skirts -- was what Sternberg called “unabashedly easy and straight.”

Gary Gershoff / Wireimage.com

The Glee Cast Descends on Fashion Week

We’re barely into Fashion Week, and already the Glee cast is appearing ubiquitous in the season’s front rows. Glee’s Lea Michele was in the front row at Jason Wu’s show on Friday – and was a late arrival at Alexander Wang on Saturday. But before she took her seat between Vogue editors Grace Coddington and Tonne Goodman, she spun for the cameras as if she was at the Emmy Awards. An hour later, her cast mate, Kevin McHale, popped up in the front row at Band of Outsiders across town, alongside the show’s executive producer, Ryan Murphy. Call it, perhaps, the Bee Schaffer effect: Anna Wintour’s daughter, who works for Murphy’s production company, was seated nearby in the front row.

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Welcome To Carine's World

Fashion people have a reputation for being able to strike a pose, but that sometimes comes at the expense of spontaneity. Thankfully, a party at a small nightclub on the west side highway thrown by Barneys New York for former French Vogue editor in chief Carine Roitfeld, proved that these sorts of people can sometimes let loose.The event was held to celebrate the release of Roitfeld's new coffee table book, Irreverent, and many of the biggest names in the industry even did Karaoke. Simon Doonan sang "Nasty Girl," changing the lyrics in an homage to the woman of the hour ("Carine Roitfeld is a nasty, nasty girl.") Roitfeld and Anna Dello Russo did back up on a friend's rendition of "Careless Whisper" (they were delightfully horrible), and eventually Valentino even took the stage to serenade the crowd with "My Way" and "Unforgettable." The way Roitfeld explained it to us, the party was just another part of her larger attempt to make the fashion world a more exciting "less politically correct" place. "Fashion has become a big business," she said. "I'm very happy about this, but I think it would be better if it was a bit more irreverent."

What does she think about Marc Jacobs possibly going to Dior, we asked. "I think he's a brilliant art director and stylist, you have to have the shoulders for the job, but I think he's got them. I think he would be a very good choice." Still, she wanted to send a message to her friend John Galliano, who on Thursday was fined 6000 euros in French court for making anti-semitic remarks. "Keep making dresses John! He's a big tal-ant!" Could she see editing another magazine? "Maybe," she said. "I'm thinking about my next dream team."