36 Designers to Watch During New York Fashion Week

From the elder statesmen like Marc Jacobs to It-labels like Prabal Gurung, here's a look at the top shows on the calendar.

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The runway at Prabal Gurung's Spring 2012 show at the IAC Building in New York.
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ELDER STATESMEN: Diane von Furstenberg
Diane von Furstenberg's collections are always eye-catching, and packed with a mix of great trends for the coming season and a vivid front row. Perhaps even more importantly, she's also the president of the CFDA, which makes her both a designer and an industry activist.
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ELDER STATESMEN: J.Crew
The powerful retailer is a relatively new addition to the Fashion Week calendar, but arrives with some serious cache, from must-have pieces from their new Collection line to celebrity appearances like, oh, Beyonce.
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ELDER STATESMEN: Michael Kors
nThe designer recently celebrated a whopping 30 years in the business, and he has the booming business, celebrity-packed front row, and $944 million IPO to prove it.
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ELDER STATESMEN: Calvin Klein
nUnder the direction of Francisco Costa, the womenswear offerings at Calvin Klein have seriously blossomed. The label has always boasted an impressive celebrity following, but of late, the simple dresses have even started popping up at major award shows.
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ELDER STATESMEN: Marc Jacobs
nArguably the biggest designer in the history of American sportswear, Marc Jacobs continues to dazzle season after season with his Fashion Week offerings. His main collection's show is one of the week's biggest highlights; Last season, models staged a Fosse tribute at the top of the show.
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IT-LABELS: Jason Wu
nSeveral successful seasons and a new blockbuster collaboration with Target have made Wu one of the most buzzed-about talents heading into the new year, and we're betting his Fall 2012 collection will not disappoint.
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IT-LABELS: Prabal Gurung
nThe relative newcomer has proven he's got marketable talent, from dressing It-girl Rooney Mara for a "Dragon Tattoo" premiere to being recruited to relaunch global brand ICB.
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IT-LABELS: Alexander Wang
nThe young talent has grown big enough to have his detractors, but his singular "model off-duty" look still reigns supreme among the downtown set, and his Saturday evening show remains one of the biggest tickets (and spectacles) of the week.
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IT-LABELS: Altuzarra
nJoseph Altuzarra's sexy, inventive approach to fashion has been popular among fashion insiders for several seasons, but recently his collections have gained a more commercial appeal as well. The designer also recently pocketed $300,000 as the winner of the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund.
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IT-LABELS: Rodarte
nKate and Laura Mulleavy, the designers behind Rodarte, remain among a small handful of talents at New York Fashion Week that truly bring a sense of high art to fashion. Their collections are always inventively staged, with great music and a front row that last season included Taylor Swift and Rooney Mara.
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IT-LABELS: Marchesa
nMarchesa is always one of the most exciting collections to be unveiled during New York Fashion Week because it's as close to watching a couture show as one often gets. As an added bonus: Considering the timing, there's a chance something from this collection might end up on the Oscars red carpet.
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IT-LABELS: The Row
nThe label helmed by Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen has enjoyed steady growth both from an industry and retail perspective. Last year, the label was nominated for a Swarovski prize at the CFDA Awards, and the Row's collections have become increasingly forward-thinking.
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IT-LABELS: Proenza Schouler
nOf all the labels showing outside of the Lincoln Center tents, Proenza Schouler's collections are arguably the most well thought-out and complete. The brand's spring offerings managed to make some camp '50s elements cool, from rattan elements to a shag carpeted runway.
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IT-LABELS: Rachel Zoe
nThe Hollywood stylist-turned-reality star-turned-designer has had an impressive launch to her barely one-year-old fashion collection, and is now carried at retailers like Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom. Now, the industry is eager to see how she moves forward into label's next phase.
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IT-LABELS: 3.1 Phillip Lim
nPhillip Lim may not stake a claim as one of the week's more high-fashion outings, but his shows are always jam-packed with It-girls and top editors, and the show is often a refreshing palette cleanser in comparison with some of the week's louder, more explosive shows.
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IT-LABELS: Victoria Beckham
nThe UK-based celebrity has done a pretty excellent job of establishing herself as a serious fashion talent, and her shows are quickly becoming a difficult ticket to attain -- especially since Beckham often narrates the shows herself.
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LOCAL LABELS WORTH WATCHING: Rachel Comey
nComey has enjoyed a strong indie following in New York for years, and lately her collections have upped the ante in terms of breadth and concept, showing the quirky, prints-focused talent still has impressive range in which to maneuver.
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LOCAL LABELS WORTH WATCHING: Peter Som
nSom has established himself as one of the week's most wildly inventive print-mixers with collections featuring colorful patterns and, in some cases, playful use of fur.
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LOCAL LABELS WORTH WATCHING: Rag & Bone
nA mainstay of the downtown It-set, Rag & Bone's shows often boast a veritable who's-who of the younger fashion scenesters, and their wearable-yet-chic collections are sure to be spotted on the streets in Soho.
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LOCAL LABELS WORTH WATCHING: Band of Outsiders
nWhile Band of Outsiders may boast a similar market niche as a brand like Rag & Bone, this label's collections are decidedly softer, West Coast slant, earning celebrities like Kirsten Dunst as fans.
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LOCAL LABELS WORTH WATCHING: Thakoon
nVivid colors, prints, and inventive styling (pink hair!) make Thakoon's show one of the week's big attractions for both industry insiders and retailers.
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LOCAL LABELS WORTH WATCHING: Rachel Roy
nRoy has landed a coveted niche, where she's known for being approachable, creative, and embraced by both the industry insiders at Fashion Week and the masses outside the tents who shop her main collection and her diffusion lines.
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LOCAL LABELS WORTH WATCHING: Zero + Maria Cornejo
nDesigner Maria Cornejo has an intellectual approach to design, centering on wearable, draping silhouettes and vivid prints. Added bonus: She's won awards for her eco-friendly endeavors.
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LOCAL LABELS WORTH WATCHING: Karen Walker
nThis Kiwi talent never fails to impress with her eye-catching prints and especially covetable eyewear.
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LOCAL LABELS WORTH WATCHING: Theyskens for Theory
nDesigner Olivier Theyskens has given basics label Theory an impressive lift with his forward-thinking, trend-focused collections for the label.
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LOCAL LABELS WORTH WATCHING: Derek Lam
nIn recent years, the much-loved designer has been expanding beyond the wearable-chic pieces in his main collection into diffusion offerings like his 10 Crosby line, boosting his stake in the week overall.
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Telemundo Denver
LOCAL LABELS WORTH WATCHING: Thom Browne
nIf the wildly original pieces in Browne's collections weren't enough to draw the eye, the designer's spectacle-inducing presentations (like a tea party at the New York Public Library) give the label extra dimension for the week.
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Jenni Kayne
RISING STARS: Jenni Kayne
nKayne may be based in Los Angeles, but her Fashion Week presentations have become de rigueur for most New York editors who are eager for ways to highlight her fresh, optimistic take on dressing.
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RISING STARS: Chris Benz
nAfter so many seasons, Chris Benz is really one of the "rising" scene's more established talents. Not only is the designer remarkably friendly (look for his pink hair!), his collections are refreshingly playful and optimistic, and the attendants at his Fashion Week show often include celebrities like Susan Sarandon and Johnny Weir.
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RISING STARS: Cushnie et Ochs
nThe label helmed by Michelle Ochs and Carly Cushnie was recently short-listed for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, and has also become a recurring wardrobe staple among Hollywood It-girls like Olivia Wilde.
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RISING STARS: Wes Gordon
nThe talented young designer has earned legions of fans inside the industry for his upscale, decidedly grown-up approach to dressing. (Stints with Oscar de la Renta and Tom Ford clearly didn't hurt.)
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RISING STARS: NAHM
nNary Manivong and Ally Hilfiger are the designers behind this upstart label, which has earned a reputation for playful takes on basics like a shirt dress or simple sheath.
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RISING STARS: SUNO
nOver the past few seasons, SUNO has exploded onto the New York fashion scene, thanks to its eye-catching use of textiles, prints, and creative layering. Max Osterweis and Erin Beatty, the talents behind the label, have recently upped the ante from presentations to runway shows, garnering impressive attendants.
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RISING STARS: Simon Spurr
nOne of the select menswear labels on the must-watch list, Spurr has been nominated for a CFDA Award, and has also become the de facto outfitter of some of Hollywood's most fashion-forward gentleman, making both the fashion and the front row at his show worth watching.
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RISING STARS: Preen
nThe designers behind Preen may be based in the UK, but the brand's prints and forward-thinking silhouettes have gained a cult following among the fashion set here in New York.
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RISING STARS: Ohne Titel
nThe brand name may be hard to pronounce (it's oh-nay TEE-tle, German for "without title"), but the brand's sporty-chic approach to dressing has become one of the week's more exciting collections.
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