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Designers defy matchy-matchy wisdom for the mix

Monday - 9/9/2013, 1:45pm  ET

Model Naomi Campbell walks the runway in the Diane von Furstenburg Spring 2014 collection show during Fashion Week, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013, in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

SAMANTHA CRITCHELL
AP Fashion Writer

NEW YORK (AP) -- Most people are taught from a young age that they want their outfits to match.

Isn't that why there are suits? And belts should complement shoes. And try to wear the same shades of black, right?

The biggest group of offenders to the conventional wisdom, however, is probably fashion designers. In the styles they've been previewing at New York Fashion Week, which hit its midpoint Sunday, it's been "juxtaposition" this and "opposite" that.

"It's all in the mix: feminine with masculine, sexy and slouchy, tailored with sport, chic with street," according to notes for the DKNY show.

It was OK at Tracy Reese that a raffia lace dance skirt covered with circle patterns was worn with a floral cropped shirt, and a checkered backpack was strapped to a floral top.

Designers can do it well, sometimes, with years of experience mixing colors and patterns -- and having confidence. And times have changed, too.

"There's more freedom now to express yourself through your clothes than there was 20 years ago, 50 years ago. You can wear that full feminine skirt with the man's shirt. Go ahead, take your cues from the runway," Reese said.

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KENNETH COLE

Cole's sporty Anorak and track jackets, hoodies and drawstring pants weren't clothes to just throw on in the morning without care. The mix of snakeskin, calf-hair camo and leather elevated normally casual silhouettes.

"The world is consumed with myriad points of view," Cole said in his notes. "And through ever-emerging technologies, our points of view can now be made available to everyone, everywhere."

That's why he sent his models down the runway with their own mobile devices to snap the crowd.

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VICTORIA BECKHAM

The tight ship Victoria Beckham seems to run at fashion week allowed her collection to sail smoothly down the runway.

For Beckham, there was no chaos or confusion. That goes for her small, insider-only show as well as the clothes she offers. She sticks to her vision: a chic, no-fuss approach to fashion.

Things were mostly black and white, and there was no adornment or embellishment.

It's become the norm that David Beckham comes out a few moments before the show to shake a few hands, and then their toddler daughter Harper sits on his lap as the models go by.

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DKNY

Twenty-five years in fashion is worth celebrating, and that's what Donna Karan did Sunday at her DKNY show.

She was all smiles as she did her lap of the runway after her parade of flirty, colorful looks.

Karan wasn't afraid to pay homage to the late 1980s when this brand -- geared toward a younger woman with a smaller paycheck than her signature collection -- was launched. The soundtrack was courtesy of the Beastie Boys, Run DMC and Aerosmith, and the backdrop was done in graffiti, reminiscent of New York's grittier time.

"We celebrated the city of life," she said. "It happens in New York City. They're clothes that last forever. They're clothes that have been inspired from nylons to lifestyle to yoga to bathing suits."

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DIANE VON FURSTENBERG

After four days of runway shows, it takes something special to get the fashion week crowd excited, and apparently Naomi Campbell is it.

Campbell, regarded by fashion insiders as queen of the catwalk, got the often jaded crowd cheering when she wore the finale look: a black, gold and white knit macrame sleeveless shift dress.

It fit into von Furstenberg's broader theme of "oasis," which also inspired some retro glam tunic-and-pants sets, ombre prints and a safari animal T-shirt dress worn by a model and von Furstenberg herself when she took her bow.

"What I wanted to do was create in this world that's a little terrifying and scary, I wanted to create an oasis of peace, of beauty, of color and of harmony," she said.

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MONIQUE LHUILLIER

Does Monique Lhuillier have perfect timing or what? Fashion Week hits right before the Emmy Awards -- and then again in February right before the Oscars. Hollywood surely is her bread and butter.

The looks on her runway were lovely, and she clearly catered to her celebrity crowd with many gowns and cocktail looks. But her own wardrobe was a factor, she said. "I always look at women that I know and myself, and I'm like, 'What do I want to wear next?' I always tell myself I want to have to want to wear these clothes because if I don't, then women won't."

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