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Originally published Saturday, February 14, 2009 at 5:55 PM

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Future-perfect: NY Fashion Week goes space-age

The present looks bleak for the fashion industry, so designers at Fashion Week have a solution: the future.

AP Fashion Writer

NEW YORK —

The present looks bleak for the fashion industry, so designers at Fashion Week have a solution: the future.

Space-age materials and clothes with jutting hips and shoulders made a Jetsons-like splash on Saturday at New York Fashion Week.

Even Barbie, celebrating her 50th birthday, got in on the act. A fashion show with 50 designs inspired by the doll closed with a series of futuristic dresses including a white Calvin Klein dress with cut-out shoulders. Heidi Klum sat in the front row, looking a bit like the plastic muse.

Georges Chakra used liquidy, high-tech fabrics with sharp Jane Jetson shapes, continuing a trend seen in the early going of New York Fashion Week.

BCBG relied on asymmetrical necklines and shoulder pads - yes, they may be back - and put models in metallic tights, which at the right angle on their ultra-thin legs could remind an observer of C-3PO from "Star Wars."

Nicole Miller embraced a space-age look that's a little more '60s than futuristic, shown best in a black vest with an in-your-face shoulder flange worn over a slim black stretch dress.

And that projecting shoulder might offset another recurring sight: peplum pants, with fabric that juts out at the hips.

More than 100 designers are presenting their fall collections at New York Fashion Week, which runs through Friday.

BCBG

BCBG's Max and Lubov Azria used a lot of draped silhouettes with asymmetrical necklines and bodices, cut closer to the body than other space-age clothes seen at Fashion Week.

Some of the best looks were done in smooth, sleek satin, including a cream-colored dress with intricate cutout details and stitching and a lavender hammered satin dress that was gathered in the right places to graze the body.

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The Azrias also had a new take on velvet. Instead of it being too formal or stiff, the velvet dresses in dark purple, teal and brown were sultry and seductive.

Shoulder pads, meanwhile, made a powerful statement on sheath-shape dresses, but they also lent themselves to the space-age trend.

NICOLE MILLER

Tough times call for tough clothes. Nicole Miller was one of a series of designers who, in the early going of New York Fashion Week, has shown her harder edge.

Miller's fall collection was rooted in black, but flashes - or in some cases, slashes - of metallics, purple, red and cobalt blue kept the look from being basic.

Miller did the out-of-this-world vibe best with a crisp, origami-fold blouse with a skinny black pant and black down vest with an oversized collar, and a black wool and organza vest with an in-your-face shoulder flange worn over a slim black stretch dress.

Metallics proved a strong suit, especially in Miller's use of a lacquered slinky viscose fabric. Gunmetal-colored sequins jazzed up a skirt worn with a gray techno-stretch vest.

Miller also wasn't shy to use eye-catching patent leather. It's hard to believe that this is the same designer that just a few seasons ago stood out for her lovely scarf-print dresses. Times have changed.

YIGAL AZROUEL

The studs helped tell the story at the Yigal Azrouel show. The designer called the collection, shown Friday, "dark and romantic." How about cool?

Azrouel, considered of the class of emerging designers on the cusp of becoming more well known, didn't break great new ground, but he showed that he can successfully mix edginess and sexiness.

Studded belts pulled together slinky fluid dresses, and a beautiful olive-green blouse made more feminine a pair of black space-age peplum pants.

A note to shoppers: Peplums, fabric that jets out at the hips, create a dramatic fashion statement but they're not for everyone because they both widen and draw attention to the hips.

Azrouel also touted super-skinny leg pants, borderlining on leggings, that seem to have made a comeback after spring fashion embraced a looser silhouette.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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