Intents: Having it Both Ways at Fashion Week, or, The Butch is Back

Perhaps Diane von Furstenberg captured the zeitgeist of the season best. "I always wanted to live a mans life in a woman' body" was her own dedication to her Sunday fashion show. There was the yin and yang of flirty dresses worn with man tailored jackets; butterfly silk jersey roughing it under tough guy leather jackets.She called her collection "metamorphosis." But whatever you call it, the juxtaposition of masculine and feminine elements was very much in the air under the tents these first few days of Fashion Week. And some of the best examples of this masculine/feminine look come from some of the hottest new designers.

Joseph Altazurra has only shown for three seasons and already he's in Barney's windows and on every fashionistas mind. HIs show was a veritable festival of fierce tailoring, lots of leatherl This is. sexy tight clothing showing off strong women in powerful clothes, most.of which were black. Another variation on this theme came from Nicole Miller, who always turns out pretty dresses. Only this time around the dresses were tougher... black, lots of leather and even her signature prints consisted of city skylines and graffiti. The effect was fabulous.

The theme of many of this seasons' shows could be summed up as Black is the new black, and tailoring is the way to tweak it.Prabal Gurung (originally from Nepal) is aother newbie darling of the fashion flock. His graphic, curvelinear seams made bold statements in black and white, with the occasional camel and white thrown in for good measure. The effect was breathtaking, a totally origninal look at masculine/feminine from a young designer who has already dressed Demi Moore. Is he the next big thing? Is anyone? Only time will tell. Alexander Wang, last seasons' next big thing showed all manner of deconstructed tailoring he said was inspired by wall street suits.

Dark, menswear inspired looks also showed up on the runway of Yigal Azrouel, who claims,"a woman who wears a suit has character,she knows what she wants, is tough." He served up lots of menswear influenced looks. Even that other hot newcomer, Door Ri Chung mixed her usual feminine draping with a military tailoring. Bergdorf Goodman's fashion director Linda Fargo is calling this a tomboy look. She cited the uberhip Rag and Bone, a line designed by the Brit partners David Neville and Marcus Wainwright. the entire English country wardrobe's worth of utility gear could be found rounding out the runway at this downtown favorite show.

What does this all mean? When things get tough, the tough get going, perhaps. At least we dress the part. If you firmly believe, as I do, that the way we dress tells us so much about what's on our minds, then we are all ready to roll up our sleeves and improve this economy. That way we can all go out and buy some new clothes again without feeling bad about ourselves Now let's see what the rest of the week brings.