The stars are out in force as New York Fashion Week kicks off… but are the first labels to show playing it too safe

Fashion designers, retailers, editors and stylists settled into their routines today for eight days of shows at New York Fashion Week.

With barely a blink at all the photographers' flashes, it seems the luxury market that most of the runway shows speak to has, over the past year, steadily recovered at the retail level despite the volatile economy.

Showing support for the designers showing today were a starry crowd that promises to get ever more A-list as the week goes on.

Ivanka Trump attends the Kimberly Ovitz fall 2012 fashion show

Amanda Hearst attends the Richard Chai - Love Fall 2012 fashion show

Front row darlings: Ivanka Trump (left) attended Kimberly Ovitz; Amanda Hearst (right) was at Richard Chai

Giada De Laurentiis

Maria Menounos

Jessica White

All-stars: BCBG Max Azria was today's big celebrity draw, attracting guests including television chef Giada de Laurentiis (left), Maria Menounos (centre) and Victoria's Secret model Jessica White (right)

Ivanka Trump was the guest of honour
at Kimberly Ovitz, while Amanda Hearst sat front row at Richard Chai.
BCBG Max Azria was the biggest celebrity draw though, counting
Victoria's Secret model Jessica White and chef Giada de Laurentiis among
its guests.

The clothes to hit the catwalk in the
early going showed a continued confidence in the colorblocking,
tailoring and easy, elongated shapes that have been trickling into
stores and will arrive in force come spring.

BCBG Max Azria

BCBG Max Azria

BCBG Max Azria

Playing it too safe BCBG Max Azria's Bauhaus-inspired collection was certainly wearable, but may have been designed more with profits in mind than breaking creative barriers

Richard Chai

Richard Chai

Richard Chai

Wearable: Richard Chai's offering, too, promises to enjoy retail success next fall/winter when it hits stores

Embellishment was sparse in the
BCBG Max Azria collection designed by Max Azria and his wife Lubov, with the emphasis
on geometric shapes, intricate pleats and unexpected mixes of fabrics,
including several pieces with patchwork-style pieces of
recycled-but-real fur.

It seems a continuation of the effort
the designers have made in the last few seasons to elevate the brand to
a more sophisticated, restrained (and more expensive) level.

for 'an artful proposition', they used an elongated silhouette in the
spirit of the Bauhaus, an influential German school in the 1920s that
taught a design style integrating crafts and fine arts.

Tadashi Shoji

Tadashi Shoji

Dresses to impress: Tadashi Shoji took care of red carpet looks with his Shanghai-visits-Hollywood gowns

Richard Chai Love also kept colours basic, turning out straightforward, wearable
clothes. Surely there are more flamboyant moments to come, but fashion
is, after all, the marriage of art and commerce.

course, there's the celebrity element, too, and Tadashi Shoji took care
of red carpet looks with his Shanghai-visits-Hollywood gowns.

of shows are planned at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week tents that serve
as the hub, with another 12, including Skaist-Taylor and Tory Burch,
presenting their shows elsewhere on the Lincoln Center campus.

BCBG Max Azria

Fashion Week campus: Dozens of shows will take place over the next eight days at the Lincoln Center tents

look at every space. The question for me is, “How do you break open the
red velvet ropes”' said Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, director of fashion
at Lincoln Center.

show, for example, while an invitation-only event, is held in an
all-windowed spot so Winston Wolkoff expects passers-by to get a peek.

big names such as Marc Jacobs, Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein, who all
show later in the week, will draw the crowd to off-site places and
likely enforce the strict guest list.