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N.Y. Fashion Week: Personality, nuance, Star Wars inspire collections

On Saturday at New York Fashion Week, there was a designer debut at Banana Republic, a riff on uniform dressing at Misha Nonoo and ‎a Luke Skywalker moment at Mara Hoffman. Which just goes to show, designers can be inspired by almost anything.

"It was about giving the clothes personality, and removing some of that corporate halo," designer Marissa Webb said of her debut collection as creative director of Banana Republic.

Webb has a big job ahead of her, trying to turn around the unhip ship at Banana, but she's off to a good start. The look was layered and textured, with a fringed sweater styled with a blurred leopard print coat, and raw edges around patch pockets on a 3/4-length gray flannel coat lending a loved, lived-in feel. "There's enough of an edge that you can wear the coat with leather pants out to drinks," Webb explained.

The accessories had a lot of personality, too -- including black-and-white lace-ups, kiltie loafer pumps in bright hues, and handbags that spelled out sentiments such as "beautiful" and "quote me."

"At first, we thought about making a bag that said, 'Don't quote me,' " Webb explained. "Then I thought, why not 'quote me'? It's ‎more positive. And I want people to start having more confidence -- the design team, the team and Banana and the people who wear Banana," she said.

A can-do attitude: I like it. The chic styling was certainly a part of how good it looked. Will be interesting to see how it all translates into Banana Republic stores come fall.

With a string orchestra playing in the background, up-and-coming designer Misha Nonoo's show was one of the most civilized so far this week.

Nonoo was inspired by the "continual flux of a woman's life" as portrayed in artist Tracy Emin's recent London show, "The Last Great Adventure is You."

That boiled down to a riff on masculine and feminine‎, rough and refined. Nonoo played with elements of men's suiting, shirting, uniforms and work-wear, softening them with color and shine, to create some smart pieces.

Standouts included a liquid metal and crepe coat dress, worn over a crisp white shirt: a sleek ivory gown slit in front, inspired by a welder's coveralls, worn over a metallic mock turtleneck; and a tidy, navy herringbone welder dress over a crisp white shirt. Still, there were a lot of ideas here -- ribbon fringe, exaggerated cuffs, marled knits -- maybe too many.

Meanwhile, at Mara Hoffman, the designer's psychedelic prints took a back seat to texture and graphic textiles.

Luke Skywalker's "Star Wars" Tatooine theme ‎song opened the show, setting the backdrop for simple silhouettes inspired by the costumes worn in George Lucas' otherworldly landscape.

Hoffman showed high-waist pants, turtlenecks, jumpsuits and wrap coats in basic cream or black as a counterpoint to more colorful pieces, including a diamond-patterned shift dress, a rainbow, tufted chiffon coat, and for evening, gold metallic embroidered geometric dresses fit for Princess Leia.

It was good to see Hoffman flexing her creative muscles a little, but still, the collection felt a bit thin.

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