It’s a simple question: how does one build on success? That was the question facing designers and organizers at New York Fashion Week, who were assigned the daunting task of following up what had been four fabulous days of fashion with nary a thread out of place or statuesque model stumbling over her stilettos.

But build upon success they did — and how.

Day five was able to deliver the goods with a star-studded lineup of both old stalwarts like Thom Browne, Carolina Herrera, Kenneth Cole and Zac Posen and up-and-comers making their Fashion Week debut, which all brought celebrities like Dita Von Teese and Tina Fey out in droves. But the most-talked about show, without question, was from design house Opening Ceremony, who had perhaps the most innovative runway show in the history of fashion.

In short, chocolate oozed down a massive white wall throughout the show. Inspired by a trip to Belgium, designers Humberto Leon and Carol Lim said they wanted their presentation to be a treat for the senses, and they didn’t disappoint, with attendees dipping their fingers in the sugary goo despite its tendency to add inches to one’s waistline. Singer Joe Jonas and X Factor judge Kelly Rowland were just two celebrities expressing delight, whose joy was only increased as mugs of hot chocolate were handed to guests as they left the building. A chocolate lover’s paradise, indeed.

But the clothes were also delectable, and encompassed flowing skirts with asymmetrical hemlines, including cutouts around the knees, playful, sequined pink-and-purple dot patterns, and a long-sleeve peplum paired with simple black trousers. Male models were layered up with turtlenecks and thick wool coats worn over quilted knee-length shirts, as a somewhat sardonic reminder that New York isn’t Miami weather-wise.

Day six wasn’t quite as literally tasty, but it still proved to be a feast for the eyes with a decadence only a major fashion week in the commercial capital of the world can bring. Mark Badgley and James Mischka had a particularly strong showing, with sparkly gold gowns and floral blue brocades accented with warm fur hats and cozy tweeds, making for an interesting day and evening wear collection.

Video Courtesy of: Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.

Vera Wang once again proved why she’s Vera Wang; meaning, romance was in full bloom. Pieces came from a darker color palette, with a surplus of black and charcoal along with more muted colors like pewter and bronze. Tartan was a recurring theme in coats, cloaks, skirts and jackets, and printed on lighter fabrics like chiffon in blouses. There were also argyle sweaters and long, roomy vests. The look that drew the most applause was an evening robe in a blurry floral print, which was paired with drawstring pants and a fringe necklace. Edgy but refined, it seemed to speak to the modern woman.

Those shows were solid, but the buzziest was out of a whole other galaxy. A galaxy far, far away, that is.

The Rodarte sisters, Kate and Laura Mulleavy, brought pop culture to high fashion, with silk charmeuse gowns featuring images of Star Wars characters such as Luke Skywalker, Yoda and C-3PO. The show, heavy on childhood nostalgia, wowed in other ways, too, with a shoulderless coat in gray and black wool and fuchsia glitter. There was also a “death star” gown in the blackest shades, an outfit that would work only all too well in the closet of a Dark Queen of the Sith or some such villain concerned about her looks. Reaction to the collection — both from the audience and the fashion press — was mixed, but it had its supporters, including Dakota Fanning, who could be seen clapping enthusiastically in the front row.

Video Courtesy of: Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.

Day seven was what one would expect near the tail-end of a fashion week: climactic. Michael Kors is a household name these days, and he delivered once again with a show that demonstrated his versatility as a designer. Big sweaters in wool, cashmere, shearling, mohair, flannel and fur were the centerpiece of the collection, which was inspired by the free spirit of stereotypical California. It may not have been the highest fashion show ever — and at times even bordered on (gasp!) fast fashion — but it was enough to seemingly impress the likes of Michael Douglas, Blake Lively, Rose Byrne and Freida Pinto in the front row.

Of course, not all shows could be a smashing success. Betsey Johnson’s show certainly fell into this category, as it seemed too focused on theatrics, and not enough on the clothes. That is, if there were enough clothes — or at least the fabric they’re made of.

Two muscular men with fake fire hoses were part of Johnson’s racy show, and although they had many guests swooning, their exact purpose remained somewhat of a mystery. Maybe it was to emphasize what was supposed to be a “hot” theme, though the collection came off as a bit tawdry if anything.

Video Courtesy of: Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.

Mesh dresses paired only with bright underwear were paraded in bunches, as were mini-dresses that barely covered up one’s assets — and would probably be banned in every workplace environment — and lots, and lots, of sequins. Add thigh-high multicolored socks paired with tight miniskirts, shaggy faux fur coats, jumpsuits, colorful bags, and a yellow shirt adorned with images of handguns, and it was almost nauseating. High fashion it was not. Even Johnson performing her signature cartwheel at the end of the show couldn’t save this train wreck.

Fortunately, the final day of the week offered redemption. Ralph Lauren put on a show that was possibly the best of the week, with jaw-droppingly stunning dresses in muted shades of whites, grays, pinks and lilac. Oozing with fluid feminity, there were also capes, tailored suits, strapless gowns, and retro furs. The cashmere, fur, suede, silk and other high-end fabrics in body-hugging shapes in all the right places left viewers with two possible reactions: stunned silence, or uproarious applause. They chose the latter, and it was a choice well-made. Elegant and beautiful, the show was like stepping through a portal to another era — one where everyone is fashionable. Sure, it takes a certain type of woman to pull off such looks as the ones that were shown, but boy… er, girl… it was incredible.

J. Mendel also transported viewers to another time, one filled with statuesque Aztec priestesses and Greek goddesses. Strong shades of semi-sheer oxblood, black, white, blue and green defined the long, flowing dresses, which had an ethereal quality to them that bordered on otherworldly. The final look, a black number with crisscross draping above the waist offering a peek-a-boo cutout, with a full and flowing gown below, was the kind of thing one would expect to see on the red carpet at the Oscars, almost haute couture. Estimated time until a buyer snaps such a dress up? About 0.3 seconds. Ancient Athens never looked so good.

Sports were the obvious theme for T by Alexander Wang, and playful it certainly was. Comfy, causal and chic were the buzzwords as models pranced past in wool coats, leather leggings, chunky knits and puffer pants. Some of it — especially looks that had loads of neon — were a bit too 1980s-style fluorescent, but overall the collection scored a goal with smart practicality that almost every woman who feels young at heart would look good in, not just models.

Futurism met minimalism for Marc Jacobs, as deep scoop and V-neck dresses in blue and cream hues were followed by sheer tops paired with riding pants. There also were ruffled gowns and fur coats, a sophistication that made it as mature as it was cutting-edge. By the year 2114, every woman, at least those who live on Mars, will probably dress in such a way.

New York Fashion Week was wild. It was eclectic. It had chocolate-covered walls. It had Star Wars dresses. There was high fashion. There was drama. It took the stability of the beginning of the week, and turned it upside down. But somehow, it delivered, like any good diva would.

Were you really expecting anything else?

Editorial Note: To view all images in the photo gallery, please use the arrow keys found in the middle of the image or circle bullets atop.

Cincopa WordPress plugin

Featured image: A model walks the runway at the Badgley Mischka fashion show. Photo Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz.