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Leather leads the way at New York Fashion Week

Alexander Wang

Brian Ach/Getty Images

Alexander Wang

NEW YORK — All hail the urban warrior.

The catwalks at New York Fashion Week have been filled with models encased in thick coats, layers of fur, and leather. It almost feels like a requirement for designers to include at least one black leather piece in their collections for Fall/Winter 2013 — and many designers are offering several leather looks.

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Tough times would seem to call for tough styles.

“I think there is still this general anxiety,” said Joanna Coles, editor in chief of Cosmopolitan magazine. “We live in anxious times.”

Indeed, designers were creating these collections in the run-up to a hotly contested presidential election. Superstorm Sandy was very much on people’s minds.

“All of that uncertainty was there,” Coles said, “and now you can see it.”

Designers ranging from Donna Karan to Yigal Azrouel skipped strong color, opting instead for black — and more black. When designers did use color, they chose muted shades of dark plum, loden green, brown, or deep blue. The models at Monday night’s Marc by Marc Jacobs presentation looked as if they were on their way to a swanky Thanksgiving mixer in cabernet-colored shirts, cozy merlot-hued turtlenecks, and navy wool coats.

Because there are hundreds of designers showing here, it’s impossible to tidily categorize everything on the runway into simple trends of leather or fur or plaids and tie it all up with a velvet ribbon.

There were also opulent gold and red-carpet-ready crimson gowns. And, as always, there was glamour and splashes of color on the catwalks of Badgley Mischka, Zac Pozen, Carolina Herrera, and Diane von Furstenberg. A Tuesday morning J.Crew presentation was exploding with exuberant tangerine. But preparing women for (fashionable) battle remained the predominant theme. Alexander Wang even outfitted his models in helmet-like wool hats.

Designers offered comfort with a return to winter-appropriate hemlines and traditional plaid presented in untraditional ways. Plaid was not a big surprise coming from Tommy Hilfiger. It was, however, coming from Victoria Beckham. While most designers opted for black and white plaids, Marissa Webb rendered her plaids in pink, green, and navy, and Vivienne Tam took a subtle approach to plaid, adding red lines to just half of a black jacket.

Fur, which was once a rarity on the runway, is now being treated like any other material, and it was plentiful. It’s to be expected in posh fur jackets and stoles, but it also showed up in turtlenecks (Carolina Herrera), skirts (Christian Siriano), and even as a deep red shift dress (Derek Lam). While Lam’s fur shift looked cozy, its lack of sleeves may still leave some feeling a chill.

Christopher Muther can be reached at muther@globe.com
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