NY Fashion Week opens under shadow of McQueen death

NEW YORK, Paola Messana - Autumn-Winter 2010 Fashion Week opened in New York on Thursday as the fashion world reeled from the apparent suicide of trailblazing British designer Alexander McQueen.
"It's horrible news. It's so sad to be in such a state of despair. Such a great talent, such poetry -- it's horrific," New York fashion doyenne Diane von Furstenberg, head of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, told AFP.

Models for Richard Chai
Models for Richard Chai
McQueen, found dead at his London home, was not taking part in New York Fashion Week. However, the death of the flamboyant, 40-year-old bad boy overshadowed the show, which comes before shows in London, Milan, then Paris.
The news broke in London shortly after models had begun showing clothes on the runways at Bryant Park in the heart of Manhattan.
"His non-conforming voice of fashion will be greatly missed," said Rebeccah Pailes-Friedman, chair of the Department of Fashion Design at New York's Pratt Institute.
"He has been a major influence on designers and lovers of fashion since the moment he broke onto the scene with his unique point of view, juxtaposing beauty with aggressive, edgy energy in his designs. A huge void will be left in the fashion world at this loss."
Tim Blanks, fashion critic for style.com, also paid tribute, calling McQueen "an arch-romantic with a pessimistic streak."
That dark side, Blanks said, "produced some of the most beautiful, shocking images in the history of fashion, but it's a state of mind that can lead to endless disappointments."
This is the last time New York Fashion Week will take place in the tents at Bryant Park, near Times Square, before moving into the far more spacious facilities at the Lincoln Center for the Spring-Summer 2011 collection this September.
Among the designers showing this week are Lebanon's Georges Chakra, Donna Karan, Catherine Malandrino and von Furstenberg. Another highlight will be African designers showing together in a presentation by Arise magazine under the label African Collective.
US designer Marc Jacobs, often seen as a fellow enfant terrible with the late McQueen, was expected to open next week's sessions along with dozens of other designers, some of them veterans and some new on the scene.
The final shows next Thursday will end with collections by Isaac Mizrahi, Ralph Lauren, who has just turned 70, and Calvin Klein.
The traditional New York Fashion Week show featuring celebrities in red dresses was to take place Thursday evening, with the dresses auctioned to raise money for the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health in support of women's heart health.
Friday will feature a show dedicated to the victims of the Haitian earthquake sponsored by supermodel Naomi Campbell and the Council of Fashion Designers of America.
T-shirts were on sale at 25 dollars each with proceeds going to the Haitian help fund run by former US presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

Friday, February 12th 2010
Paola Messana

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