Updated: Wednesday, 12 February 2014 07:07 | By Agence France-Presse

Vera Wang's 'dark romance' for next winter

Vera Wang, fashion designer to the Hollywood A-list, on Tuesday unveiled her 2014 fall/winter collection inspired by "dark romance" and "a hint of mystery".


Vera Wang's 'dark romance' for next winter

Models pose at the J.Crew presentation during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Fall 2014 at The Pavilion at Lincoln Center, on February 11, 2014 in New York City - by Jemal Countess

Wang, whose evening wear and bridal gowns are highly coveted by the most famous women in Tinseltown, told AFP that her runway show was perhaps the most personal of her long career.

"Dark romance, it's my true spirit," she said. "We change, we're affected by the world, films, art, sport, books... but this time for me it was really, really personal."

She said her 40 years in fashion had been built on a reputation for a certain type of eccentricity combined with sensuality, and of a gender-bending mix in her silhouettes.

"But this time it was done with a little more power... a type of woman who is very mysterious, very complicated, very young at heart and who wants to be a little less well known," she said.

She likened her style to the large ateliers in Paris, where the emphasis remains on traditional couture rather than the ready-to-wear big business of New York.

"The clothes are made by hand in ateliers, it's not real ready-to-wear -- it's more like in Paris, in the Parisian fashion houses," she told AFP.

"We have workers with more than 25 years of training. I'm not afraid to explore all aspects of fashion, knitwear, shoes, accessories in a more couture way."

She said that her personal favorite from the collection was a long, flamboyant black evening dress, cut in ruffles and open at the back that can be worn with trousers.

US label J.Crew, a favorite of First Lady Michelle Obama, also unveiled its men's and women's collection, this time inspired by the 1920s and 1930s cabarets of Berlin.

Chief women's wear designer Tom Mora said he was attracted to the cultural creativity of the Weimar years, which were sandwiched between World War I and the 1933 Nazi takeover.

"Very free, very liberal, lots of experimentation, women dressing as men, so we always love that little nod to menswear," he told AFP during the presentation.

J. Crew's signature look often creates texture -- next winter's collection uses Harris tweeds, Donegals, cashmere and shearling knit sweaters to present classic with a new twist.

A standout from the women's collection were wide-legged trousers cropped to the ankles, one in stunning gold sequins, and sky-high stilettos showcasing a new T-bar strap.

Mora said he had pared back colors, making them richer this season and "a little more moody" to create versatile clothes that can be dressed up or down.

Obama is famous for mixing high-end and low-end pieces to create her own signature brand of chic. When she wears something from J. Crew, the items often quickly sell out.

"Any time Michelle Obama wears our clothes, we're just proud. She's a very stylish woman, that's all I can say about that," Mara said.

Dutch-born Frank Muytjens, the brand's menswear designer, summed up the brand's man as someone who loves parties and fashion but who "doesn't want to be seen 10 blocks away".

"It's about party, it's about fit, it's about fabrics," he said.

One of the key looks was sweatpants in navy, hugging the ankle and worn with smart shoes and stripped down, tailored coats.

Fashion week ends in New York on Thursday before the style parade moves over to London, Milan and Paris.

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