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New York Fashion Week, Day One: BCBG Max Azria, Richard Chai Love, Vena Cava, Ports 1961 & L.A.M.B. (PHOTOS)

Oh Gwen Stefani, how directional you are. Not to mention practical. "It's really all about what I want to wear," said Stefani.
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BCBG Max Azria
In what was easily one of their best collections in recent memory, Max and Lubov Azria sent out a fluid, almost scarf-like, collection of color-blocked pieces that, when broken down to its core, emanated from a simple black, long-sleeved T-shirt. A delight to partake in were the diaphanous color-blocked silk dresses, each cut asymmetrically, some worn as loose tunics while others were belted over cigarette pants or shown with just leggings. The entire show, from the initial sportswear looks to the finale lineup of gorgeous sequin and embellished tulle dresses, seemed to float in an ethereal manner. It was fluid, strong and offered a clear message on the future direction of the BCBG brand.

Ports 1961
Think Amelia Earheart circa 2040 and suddenly Tia Cibani's design train of thought is fully decipherable: leather helmuts, asymmetrical cuts, stiff fabrics and the wary backless coat. This was unfortunately not the brand's most saleable line compared to past seasons. Signature cocktail dresses and long gowns were present but in short form. On the other hand, the jewelry designed for the show was organic and eye pleasing.

Richard Chai Love
From the first maxiskirt look, it was clear Richard Chai was on a healthy trajectory. For his second contemporary line Richard Chai Love collection, the former Marc Jacobs design director seemed to echo the virtues that made his old boss a success. But before the G-word (that would be grunge) is uttered, there was plenty more available to soften the silhouette. Military coats paired with easy georgette button-downs and ribbed wool skirts were long, lean and elegant. Knits came in nearly every shape, size and form. The color palette was soft and boasted such autumnal colors as gunmetal, copper, army green and soft grays. When there wasn't a skirt, slouchy pants echoed the former. A standpoint floral print turned out to be tiny origami cranes. Chai is still perfecting his boy-meets-girl aesthetic, but Thursday's show proved he has made great strides.

Vena Cava
In what was easily their most sophisticated and grown-up collection to date, designers Sophie Buhai and Lisa Mayock turned to Woodstock and fiber artist Sheila Hicks to bring back the roaring Seventies. While indie So Cal band The Like performed, such hits like a tweed wool cropped coat, skeleton print silk chiffon gown and copper viscose appliqué dress were standouts. The fur pieces and accents added a much-needed glam quotient. A tad bit schizophrenic, yes, but Vena Cava proved their vitality and staying power.

Oh Gwen Stefani, how directional you are. Not to mention practical. "It's really all about what I want to wear," said Stefani. That translated to a mélange of military soldiers, boudoir and Hollywood starlet. "My favorites are the leather leggings and military jacket," said Stefani. "Vintage Hollywood starlet meets soldier girl." While there wasn't anything Hollywood Blvd. about these clothes, they nevertheless projected a raw sexiness and daring thinking that has made Stefani herself a global phenomenon. As for the clothes, they ranged the gamut from a minidress with sharp leather shoulders to a corset accented with a tweed top.

For more Fashion Week news, visit the Fashion Week Big News page.