Reporting from New York

The women's fall/winter 2011 runway season started in New York a little more than a week ago with more than 100 shows. Several themes emerged, including a dressed-up mademoiselle chic and Western romance. Bright color clashing and monochromatic dressing were important, as were mixed plaids. And when it came to outerwear, it was all about the parka and the poncho. Here are the 10 takeaways from New York's Fashion Week.

MICHAEL KORS AT 30

On the show invitation, there was a funny photo of Michael Kors, back when his hair was long and lustrous. But that was the extent of the reminiscing. Kors is secure enough that he doesn't need a pose-step-and-repeat photo op or a sizzle reel. The collection he showed was a perfect example of the confidence that comes from working hard and staying true to yourself for three decades.

The clothes were all about sporty decadence, with the strictest of lines. "Polished, yet easy," read the show notes.

For Kors, there must be 100 shades of neutral, and a lot of them were in this show, which emphasized monochrome dressing. A blush-colored, knitted fox fur bathrobe coat, worn over a blush silk blouse and gabardine trousers, with a sleek silver choker, was textbook Kors elegance. A ginormous fur cross-body bag, worn over a suntan-colored turtleneck sweater and matching silk pajama pants, showed the designer's tongue-in-cheek approach to luxury.

Speaking of suntans, skirts were designed with slits high enough to show off a toned and tanned thigh. A black bodysuit (they're baaack!) worn with a wide belt overa long, black slit-front pleated georgette skirt was a hot look.

RODARTE'S WONDERFUL WIZARDRY

Pasadena sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy took us to the Great Plains with romantic prairie looks on fresh-faced models with windswept hair.

The throughline to the prairie girl story was a sensual draped, crinkled silk gown that came in five different versions, with amber waves of grain pictured at dawn, midday, dusk, under stormy skies and Technicolor skies.

Romantic blouses were key pieces as well, one style pieced together from several different varieties of cream floral lace, and paired with a lace circle skirt. Staying true to their craftsy aesthetic, the Mulleavys showed sweaters knit in Amish quilt motifs, and collage-like tulle and sequin skirts as light as corn silk.

MARC JACOBS GIVES NEW MEANING TO CHEAP CHIC

With the venue bathed in red light and the mirrored runway fitted with tufted vinyl columns, it was looking like Marc Jacobs' recent collaboration with Playboy might be an influence on his current collection. (Jacobs teamed up with Playboy to create three $35 T-shirts, with proceeds going to Designers Against AIDS.)

Alas, there were no Playboy bunnies on the runway, but the idea of porn and how it relates to what is real and what is fake, what is beautiful and what is vulgar, could have been in the back of Jacobs' mind when he dreamed up the dressed-up, 1940s-influenced looks made from fine (fox fur, guipure lace) and coarse (vinyl, polyester) materials.

What made the collection all the more interesting is that you couldn't really tell the difference between what was real and what wasn't —you couldn't tell that the glistening poker-chip-sized sequins on straight skirts and shift dresses were actually made of rubber, that the short-sleeve "fur" sweaters were actually densely embroidered sequins, and that the lace dresses were paired with cellophane jabots.

JOSEPH ALTUZARRA: NEW COOL KID IN TOWN

There's been a lot of buzz about Joseph Altuzarra, who burst onto the scene in 2008. And while a lot of his '90s grunge-meets-boudoir collection was retreading on old ground (an Army green parka and a parka-poncho, fishermen sweaters and skirts with utility straps), other pieces were more inspired. The twisted, patchwork argyle sweaters, and patchwork argyle silk blouse with raw edges had an undeniable cool.

The liquidy boudoir-meets-military dresses, too, were the rare combo of tough and romantic. Draped and fastened with D-rings, they hugged the models' curves in rich gold or rust silk.

And you can bet the plaid and tweed screen-printed denim, done in collaboration with the denim label Current/Elliott, will sell like crazy.

FALLING FOR PRABAL GURUNG