Also, the schedule was lighter than usual on opening day because many designers prepared to mingle with shoppers at a slew of Fashion's Night Out events Thursday night.
BCBG Max Azria and Richard Chai Love were among the first to show at the Lincoln Center tents.
Next up for fashion insiders in the coming weeks are runway shows in London, Milan and Paris.
With all the news buzzing at the Lincoln Center tents about John Galliano's guilty verdict and President Obama's speech on the economy, Max and Lubov Azria took a soothing approach to lift the mood, at least for a moment.
Dresses continue as their strong suit: A-line sundresses with fanlike pleats, barely there slip dresses and flowing scarf styles. While delicacy and modesty prevailed, there were hints of bolder sexiness with a bra-top style here and a low, open back there.
Most of the looks were rooted in chalk gray, light stone or blush pink but pops of yellow, blue, coral and emerald green were used effectively.
The goal, the Azrias explained in their notes, was a mashup of neutrals with tribal-inspired prints and embroideries "reflecting an urban, global spirit."
The tribal thing wasn't too literal, though, which kept the clothes from being costumey.
Chai's customers must be planning a busy spring, bouncing from the golf course to the Scottish Highlands to the beach. Maybe they'll squeeze in a safari.
Chai's Love label offers men's and women's collections. There was a slight androgynous vibe on the catwalk with colors, patterns and even some silhouettes moving rather seamlessly between the male and female models.
Some of the best looks were in iris prints, a tied-around-the-waist skirt for her and a pullover shirt for him. Texture had a big role in the clothes, and that stepped up the solid double-breasted swingy balmacaan coat and coated cotton blazer.
Some of the men's clothes seemed a bit over the top. The baggy board shorts were just too much fabric, especially with the matching blazers, and the muscle T seems a stretch for the runway.
Try picturing the basketball stars lining the front row - Dwayne Wade and A'mare Stoudemire - in the snakeskin-style striped tank. Those guys could pull off the flowery Hawaiian shirts, though.