At Ralph Lauren, a fisherman vest with all-over pockets was worn over slim cashmere-herringbone skirt suit, and a flannel plaid shirt was paired with a three-tiered embroidered black skirt.
Marc Jacobs went his own way with the finale show Friday night, closing eight days of previews of next season's styles. But he did play with the pairing of opposites in proportion, a broader trend throughout the week.
The fashion flock will soon turn to London, Paris and Milan, Italy, to confirm next season's trends that first made their debut in New York.
Marc Jacobs turned New York Fashion Week upside down. First, he rushed to seat the audience, after famously making fashion editors, stylists and retailers wait for hours in the recent past.
He created a runway that was more like a concert space - complete with Sonic Youth on the stage playing live while models made their way around the rectangular space first to the photographers and then up a set of stairs to an actual catwalk.
And then there were the clothes that didn't fit into any of the trends advocated by other influential designers. There were no feathers, no purple and certainly no tweed.
Jacobs did, however, play with the yin and yang of proportion. Most of his outfits either had a loose, blouson-style top with a very narrow bottom - one long gray flannel dress had such a tight hemline that the model could take only very small steps - or they had a slim menswear shirt with slouchy bottoms, many with a dropped crotch.
Even with countryside touches, Ralph Lauren presented a fall collection that is still very much for the chic city woman.
There probably aren't many reasons to pack a sexy cowl-neck gown in bright orange velvet for a weekend at the hunting lodge, but there was a high-neck cocktail dress in green plaid that would be a good candidate for holiday parties whether you're here or there.
Lauren also was having a buffalo-check moment, using the bold square pattern in combinations of red and black, green and black and purple and black for all sorts of silhouettes, ranging from short jackets with exaggerated necklines to evening gowns.
It's not always what you see that makes a woman look sexy - it's often what you don't. Donna Karan played with the notions of mystery and seduction in her fall collection and the result was a smoldering success.
This show hit on many of the themes that have emerged as trends - mixing casual with dressy, turning coats into the centerpiece of an outfit and finding inspiration in the days between World War I and II. She also used feathers, a surprising hot look, on her shoes.
But somehow it all looked different here.
The very best outfits put shiny pailettes and beads in just the right places on scarf-style tops while the rest was sheer tulle. Karan offered this look both as evening gowns in black and olive, as well as a sophisticated top paired with a languid pair of pajama trousers.
Spider-web, lattice and Little Miss Muffet dresses are the kinds of dramatic clothes that Zac Posen thrives on - and they were the highlight of his fall collection.
For the ordinary woman - one with a slim figure and a fat wallet - there were schoolgirl (and schoolboy) suits, some beaded tuxedo-inspired looks and a lovely loop embroidery coat in navy duchess satin. But it's the wild stuff that captured the attention of the crowd.
Sitting in one of his strapless "fairy-tale gowns," which likely had a hoop underneath, would be a challenge unable to be met by most mortals, as would wearing a truly nude (as in see-through) chiffon dress with a feathered cape.
Tommy Hilfiger had Julianne Moore, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Helena Christensen in the front row of his fall-collection fashion show, but one wonders if he extended an invitation to Faye Dunaway or Ali McGraw?
Hilfiger said in his notes that the line was done with a sexy Dunaway or fresh-faced McGraw from late 1960s and early '70s in his mind.
The clothes certainly had references to that era but they weren't the hippie styles that stylists and editors have gotten used to seeing during New York Fashion Week.
There were jersey tops with wool trousers that were professional with just enough sex appeal, and it was the same story with a red jersey side-button sheath. Hilfiger's collection will be sold exclusively in Macy's stores.
Sean "Diddy" Combs returned to New York Fashion Week with a runway show that began with the dramatic act of raising three chandeliers into the air. This season marks the 10th anniversary of Combs' Sean John label and he celebrated with mostly suits instead of the super-casual urban styles that made the brand famous.
In his notes, Combs paid homage to the great African American designers who came before him, and the all-black cast of models wore styles that actually translated many of the fall season's women's trends into menswear. Tyson Beckford closed with show in a boucle double-breasted jacket with fur trim.
The collection also included flashes of purple, sequins on otherwise casual sweaters, and asymmetrical jackets with exposed zipper details.
If you want a sense of Cynthia Rowley's attitude, witness her descriptions of her fall '08 collection: Laissez-faire. One-line story. Free-range.
And while she didn't send the models down the runway on bicycles as she did for spring, Rowley, known to add a little kitsch, presented a loose and flowing collection with a nod toward Victorian times and Impressionist art.
"My inspiration is the art of silhouette making and charm of delicate pop-up books that were most popular during Victorian times," she said. "It's a little bit romantic, a little bit story book."
CARMEN MARC VALVO
Those bra straps were supposed to be showing at Friday's Carmen Marc Valvo show. Valvo, besides previewing his fall collection, used New York Fashion Week as a platform to launch his lingerie line being done in collaboration with Cosabella.
On some outfits, undergarments peeked out - from the top of a strapless dress or underneath a suit jacket, for example. For other looks, Valvo was merely inspired by delicate underpinnings. A red-and-blue cocktail dress had a corset-style silhouette and a long, fluid gown made of gray cashmere flannel had a lace inset around the hips.
Feathers had their place in this collection, as they've had in many others over the past eight days of seasonal previews. Valvo's use of feathers, however, was more restrained, adding a hint of extra luxury instead of screaming it.