Feb 1, 2008
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New York Fashion Week opens in the red

Feb 1, 2008

NEW YORK, Feb 1, 2008 (AFP) - The annual strutting of New York Fashion Week kicked off Friday February 1st in the red, with a bevy of actresses and other celebrities wearing the color as part of the Red Dress Campaign, to alert women to the dangers of heart disease.

Actress Rita Moreno presents an outfit during The Heart Truth’s Red Dress Collection show - Photo : Stan Honda/AFP

"Heart disease doesn't care what you wear. It's the number one killer of women," a poster from the US Department of Health screamed at the entrance to the opening show of the annual fashion week, which this year also reflects the in-the-red state of the US economy.

A scrubbed-healthy looking Liza Minnelli belted out one of her favorite tunes, "New York, New York," to open the show at Bryant Park in the heart of Manhattan, a city besieged Friday by icy rain and gusting winds.

This year's Fashion Week is accompanied by rumors of recession, though the government has not used the "R" word.

Retail sales and consumer confidence in the United States are down, and the jobs market has contracted for the first time in more than four years.

Glum sales during the holiday season confirmed to the fashionistas what politicos have refused to admit: Americans are tightening their belts and knocking on the doors of recession.

But Fashion Week was refusing to sing the blues, donning red to send its health message.

This year's Fashion Week has lured celebrity visitors from the west coast, hungry for an outing after the long Hollywood writers' strike, as well as fashionistas with the promise of offerings from hundreds of houses of fashion.

Among them are perennial all-American favorites such as Diane von Furstenberg, Michael Kors and Vera Wang, and young, relative unknowns such as Carlos Miele and Iodice from Brazil.

American fashion houses have put on a brave face as they grapple with a weakening dollar and the increasing expense of imports.

Designer Nanette Lepore, who produces 90 percent of her haute couture in New York's garment district -- only beadwork and embroidery are done in China -- copes with the rising cost of running a business in Manhattan by only putting out two collections a year.

Designers who insist on staying put in Manhattan to sew their satin and embroider on silk, have to sell an evening dress for upwards of 1,000 dollars.

by Paola Messana

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