More than 90 designers showed Fall/Winter 2012 collections to retail buyers, media and celebrities during semi-annual event and 250 others opted for other venues around the city.
While some gown designers gave a nod to the 1920s, sparked by films such as The Artist daytime and less formal evening looks featured wearable takes on 1960s styles with longer hemlines seen in pencil, maxi, circle and pleated skirts.
Designer Michael Kors declared the demise of super-short hemlines. "I think it is going to be the death knell of the miniskirt," he said. "It doesn't have to be floor length but it can be from the ankle to the knee.
"For a lot of younger women, they have been in a crotch-high dress for a very long time, so I think longer is going to be really important."
Along with Tory Burch and Diane von Furstenberg, Kors featured pencil skirts, some with matching jackets. Nanette Lepore mixed bright patterns and prints, while Betsey Johnson said she was inspired by the '60s mod-inspired looks.
"There have been touches of late '60s, early '70s with more of a cosmopolitan, urban bent," said Susan Cernek, Glamour magazine's fashion development director.
"It's not theatrical or poppy, it's actually much more wearable because it references what people were really wearing in urban settings around that time period," she said. "It's great news for us because it's really much more wearable."
BURGUNDYS, PLUMS, PINKS
RealiSing that impulse buying would be rare because of the jittery global economy, designers paid attention to detail and tailoring.
"People are making wiser choices to build their wardrobe," said designer Dennis Basso. "I think she is building a wardrobe today as opposed to just making a quick impulse purchase on something that is only worn once."
Saks Fifth Avenue senior fashion director Colleen Sherin was "cautiously optimistic" the upcoming season would entice shoppers to buy.
"People are more thoughtful about the purchases these days, so for them to part with their money they are shopping for things ... that elicit some sort of emotional response because they are such beautiful special pieces," she said.
Navy replaced black in some collections but the most common colours were jades, deep green, plum and burgundy in fabrics ranging from fur and leather to silk and satins.
Diane Von Furstenberg showed pink and berry sleeveless crepe dresses, a frosted lime jacquard coat and a cerulean blue, loose sleeveless top contrasting with a scarlet pencil skirt.
Ralph Lauren created fuchsia satin evening dresses with matching clutches, while Tommy Hilfiger featured plenty of burgundy and forest green.
"This is the season where we use a lot of colour," designer Narciso Rodriguez, adding he "worked with many shades of orange, red, rust, bordeaux, plum, everything, you know, in the red family."
J Mendel and Proenza Schouler featured winter whites.
DECORATIVE FABRICS, LEATHER
Metallic shades of green, gold and silver were prominent on rich fabrics such as brocades and jacquards on labels ranging from Marc Jacobs to Christian Siriano, Chadwick Bell, Monique Lhuillier and Karen Walker.
"Everywhere you see a lot of pure gold and pure silver," said Macy's Fashion Director Nicole Fischelis. "The idea of metallic continues to be important as well as shine and shimmer."
Prints were sprinkled throughout shows, including the jigsaw painted on blouses and dresses at von Furstenberg.
Many designers mixed fabrics like jacquards and brocades and leather, lace and fur trimmings. Marc Jacobs combined a black leather dress and tweed panels with a red paisley jacquard skirt.
"The overriding mood is one of an eclectic mix of layers, a mixing of fabrics and textures," said Sherin.
Tweed and oversized plaid continued to be popular, along with buffalo check, blanket stripes. Kors matched a crimson and black plaid mohair bias skirt with a black cashmere halter cardigan.
Leather was another key trend in outer wear, dresses, skirts and slouchy, more relaxed trousers.
Ponchos, motorcycle jackets and coats embellished with fur or fake fur were also popular. Badgley Mischka created luxurious jackets in brocade and shearling and mink and fox fur. And innovative knitwear inspired many fashionistas, with big cable stitch knits seen at Derek Lam.
Cernek described Victoria Beckham's military-inspired look as "firm but polite."
"So many of the collections ... across the board are firm but straightforward and very polite," she added.
Fashion experts noted the craftsmanship, draping and layering and tight tailoring of the collections, such as the tailored pieces at Donna Karan.
"It's a sophisticated, subdued, very polite reference to the past. There is nothing garish ... or over the top," said Cernek. "It is all very tight tailoring and sophisticated palettes and silhouettes with a lack of flashiness -- or the flashiness appearing in really lux fabrics, is an interesting shift almost across the board."
But Cernek said shoes in the shows were outrageously sexy.
"If you are looking for fun, you just have to look down at your feet."