It's denim with a kick

It looks like New York Fashion Week has come down with a serious case of the blues.

Blue jeans that is.

While the twice-yearly showcase of designer clothing has never exactly been devoid of denim, the presentation of fashion collections for fall-winter 2012, which got underway Wednesday, is serving up a noticeably robust roster. West Coast brands including Levi Strauss, Hudson Jeans, 7 for All Mankind and a relaunched Rock & Republic have joined the ranks of the luxury labels.

Levi's, whose last high-profile appearance at New York Fashion Week was in 2007 for the launch of a Damien Hirst collaboration, has spent the last year rejiggering and streamlining its product mix and marketing efforts. It plans to use a presentation Wednesday to unveil its first global collection.

"We know we're not a couture brand — and we're not pretending to be," said Levi's creative director Len Peltier." We're using the energy of the week to announce our global line and introduce a new look for Levi's."

He declined to be more specific, hinting only that the presentation "would be reverent and respectful of fashion week" but also "uniquely Levi's" as well as a departure from the traditional runway show format.

Mysterious sounding perhaps, but it seems downright tame in comparison to the "phosphorescent invasion" of the meatpacking district that Hudson Jeans organized for Friday — part black-light rave, part live art performance-installation by Brooklyn street artist Aakash Nihalani, whose medium is glow-in-the-dark tape. The event was to launch the label's new tuxedo-trouser-inspired jean called the LouLou, which has a racing-stripe side seam down each leg that glows under black light. (Hudson, which traditionally shows its wares to buyers and media on the Las Vegas and New York trade show circuit, isn't a complete stranger to the more upscale New York Fashion Week. In September 2009, the label used the occasion to launch its advertising campaign with model Georgia May Jagger.)

"We decided on New York Fashion Week because it's just a massive global convergence that includes domestic press, European press and Asian press," said Hudson's founder and Chief Executive Peter Kim. "And that international presence ties in to our developing European business — France has really exploded for us and we're just getting started into Italy."

Another L.A.-based premium denim line, 7 for All Mankind, will be trying to leverage a virtual presence during fashion week, having scheduled its new advertising campaign and revamped YouTube channel (which will host webisodes directed and edited by the now officially ubiquitous James Franco) to go live on Wednesday — the day before the New York shows officially end.

And finally, Rock & Republic — which once was a high-flying label whose most memorable appearance at a previous New York Fashion week featured a "Sin City meets After Six formalwear" aesthetic, an orchestra pit and a baby grand piano on the runway — was scheduled to return Friday after a couple of years' absence. The Culver City premium denim brand filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2010 and was later bought by VF Corp.This time, its VIP fashion show and party at the Hammerstein Ballroom was relaunching the brand as an exclusive-to-Kohl's purveyor of denim, footwear and accessories.

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