New York Fashion Week: Fierce, fitted looks and military elements emerge as trends

Fashion from the Fall 2012 collection of Victoria Beckham is modeled on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2012 in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
Bebeto Matthews
Fashion from the Fall 2012 collection of Victoria Beckham is modeled on Feb. 12, 2012, in New York.

(CBS/AP) NEW YORK - Fierce, fitted looks and military elements are among the trends emerging for Fall 2012 as New York Fashion Week hits its halfway point.

The looks are a contrast to the flowing, airy silhouettes that dominated the spring season. In addition to military influences and menswear looks for women, other themes emerging by Day 4, halfway through the previews for next season, include leather, python prints and other textured fabrics.

Traditional fall hues like black, loden green, wine and plum have ruled the runways, but white, an unusual choice for the season, has had a strong showing, too. Lela Rose on Sunday showed an ivory silk crepe collared sheath, an ivory silk cloque dress with embroidered shoulders and a white silver mosaic embroidered dress.

Here are some of the highlights from Days 3 and 4 of Fashion Week:

Pictures: Stars at Fashion Week
Pictures: New York Fashion Week, Day 4
Pictures: New York Fashion Week, Day 3
Special section: New York Fashion Week

Victoria Beckham offered a no-nonsense, tough-girl fall collection: shiny python shirt-style collars on second-skin dresses with gold hardware and zip-back striped sheaths. Interesting twists included dresses with epaulets but no sleeves to hang them on, and harness-style backs on dresses that had high necks in the front. There was a hint of a schoolgirl vibe in some looks with the collars and flared-hem skirts.

Gone from this collection were the looser shapes Beckham had been experimenting with in past seasons. This was Beckham's sexy, sophisticated look to the core. The one exception might be the motorcycle boots that one can't imagine Beckham giving up her stilettos for.

For her DKNY brand, Donna Karan wrapped up models in high-neck aviator coats and fitted blazers but gave them flirty short skirts with bouncy hemlines. She put them in cozy collars and feminine bow-neck blouses.

Even more diversity came from the textures: embossed crocodile, shiny leather, cozy shearling, sexy sheers and slim twill. When she tired of black, which Karan really never does, she switched to navy, gray or the occasional flash of red.

As in last season, Karan positioned a taxi just behind the open, street-side doors from which the models emerged, ensuring that each photo would have the yellow-cab backdrop.

Bold juniper green, lame in gold and violet and a tomato orange lit up Tracy Reese's runway in pants, dresses, skirts, sweaters and coats, long and short.

Reese heavily embellished sleeveless and short-sleeve cocktail dresses with metallic beading front and back. She put feminine fringe on loose, cozy sweaters and combination bowler-baseball caps on the heads of her models.

Much of her outerwear was a crowd pleaser, including a shimmery gold coat, belted at the waist. She did another in lemon yellow and a third was cropped with a feminine peplum.

Reese also had fun with jacquards, enlarging one in black and white in a cropped jacket and mini skirt. She used colored jacquards and leaf motifs throughout.

Prabal Gurung offered sharp, edgy black outfits with strong silhouettes, slashed sleeves and high-gloss patent leather and ended with Oscars-worthy white gowns with feathers and gold lame. Somewhere in between, he fit in blouses and dresses in a recurring print of a steer's skull that sounds scary but was subtle and truly lovely.

Gurung created hourglass shapes with sheer panels on models who sometimes looked like beanpoles. Some garments were molded to define silhouettes without making them clingy. Trousers were narrow but with boot-leg bottoms. Chic coats were also long and lean.

He experimented with mixed textures, offering a patent leather coat embroidered with sheared mink loops, fox fur and tiers of goat hair, and on the other end of the spectrum, a white cocktail dress with a panel of gold tinsel and another of lame. A red carpet-ready black gown featured sheer tulle covered in beads and crystals.

Gisele Bundchen wore a military-inspired trenchcoat as part of an impressive group of top models on Alexander Wang's runway, along with Shalom Harlow and Karolina Kurkova.

The clothes including wool sweaters and tweed jackets were more straightforward than Wang's recent cool-girl downtown vibe. The slick, glossy fall collection also featured looks in leather and chiffon, with colors like black, oxblood red and an optic white he called "peroxide."

Rachel Zoe has that old-school, rock-star girlfriend thing down. Zoe, best known as a celebrity stylist, flaunted the signature look that made her famous with a parade of faux fur coats, skinny-style tuxedos, maxi dresses and thigh-high boots that you imagine the young jet-set wearing as they shuttle from London to Los Angeles - perhaps with a stop in New York. They're for the type of woman who can pull off gaucho pants, which were indeed part of the lineup.

She said in her notes she drew inspiration "from the rock and roll glamour of London in the late '60s and such fashion icons as Marianne Faithfull and Mick Jagger."

The second outfit to come down Jill Stuart's runway, a gold leaf-embroidered T-shirt paired with black sailor pants, is headed straight to the designer's closet. She had it earmarked for her wardrobe even before she debuted her fall collection.

Some dresses had flippy, flouncy hemlines and others had a schoolgirl jumper silhouette, adding moments of levity to the catwalk, but the emphasis seemed to be on the sharply defined shoulders, high necklines and the occasional panel of suggestive sheer fabric.

Many of the prints and embroideries featured a floral motif, but there was nothing flowery about black roses on stark winter white backgrounds or prints that seemed to paint a picture of a garden in the dark. This collection showed a more serious side to Stuart.

With winged dresses and swirls of piping to evoke veins, Christian Siriano paid homage to Fay Wray and vampire bats in a stark, cavernous runway space worthy of the creatures of the night.

The Season 4 winner of "Project Runway" said he was inspired by old horror films, particularly "The Vampire Bat," a black-and-white from 1933 starring Wray. He used a near blood red, silvery gray, midnight black and shimmery gold brocade to set the scene, along with a bright white as a nod to Fay's skin tone and wardrobe in the movie.

The theme, including blood red lips on models, is darker than Siriano's previous looks. He was helped along by shiny black leather jackets and skirts, some in snake and crocodile patterns.

He went for a little romance in loose shapes and long trumpet skirts, which fit tightly and flare at the bottom, in loose palazzo trousers and in his signature gowns in crepe and tulle. He added wearable gold beading on a red cocktail dress, a faux fox infinity scarf in near silver against a black skinny pant and top, and used a leather bodice with a flowing, pleated skirt.