The Best of Pre-Fall 2012: Alexander McQueen, Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga, More

Pre-fall is becoming an increasingly important season for designers, from Alexander McQueen's romantic details to Balenciaga's '80s-inspired looks.

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Chloe
A look from Chloe's Pre-Fall 2012 collection.
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Pre-Fall is becoming an increasingly important season for designers, and Alexander McQueen's offerings felt as dramatic and detailed as any runway collection.
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Emerald green with lace details for Alexander McQueen's Pre-Fall collection.
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A chic cape in Alexander McQueen's Pre-Fall collection.
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Many of the looks in Alexander McQueen's Pre-Fall collection felt almost like period pieces, with peplum waists, cinching belts, and full skirts.
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Louis Vuitton's Pre-Fall collection is an eclectic mix of textures and colors -- all with a vaguely retro feel.
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Head-to-toe green at Louis Vuitton's Pre-Fall collection preview.
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An updated, eclectic take on a flapper in Louis Vuitton's Pre-Fall collection.
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Victor & Rolf's Pre-Fall collection conjured a moody, romantic landscape that seemed like something out of an Edward Burton movie.
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A silk tie-neck blouse is paired with wide-leg trousers in Victor & Rolf's Pre-Fall collection.
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A dramatic blouse in Victor & Rolf's Pre-Fall collection offers ruffles to spare.
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Tibi's Pre-Fall collections offered seriously modern silhouettes in ultra-bright hues.
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A suit from Tibi's Pre-Fall collection.
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A simple blouse and asymmetrical, floral skirt from Tibi's Pre-Fall collection.
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The Row, by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, offered luxurious separates and moody styling for its Pre-Fall collection.
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A black velvet dress with a sheer panel in The Row's Pre-Fall collection.
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A slick leather jacket and a crisp button-down are among the classic separates in The Row's Pre-Fall collection.
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London-based Stella McCartney staged her Pre-Fall collection in New York this year, which featured some playful looks like a logo-heavy suit.
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Other pieces bore McCartney's classic, minimalist styling, like this long white cream coat.
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A silver brocade suit from Stella McCartney's Pre-Fall collection.
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A delicate black-and-white lace dress in Stella McCartney's Pre-Fall collection is tempered by tough boots.
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Roksanda Ilincic's designs have started popping up on red carpets for the Hollywood set, and her Pre-Fall collection was clean-lined and -- in some cases -- color-soaked.
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An eye-catching color-block dress from Roksanda Ilincic's Pre-Fall collection.
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A dazzling combination of bright yellow and aquamarine in Roksanda Ilincic's Pre-Fall collection.
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Gucci's Pre-Fall collection features some romantic pansy prints, and the lookbook was shot against a similar floral background, giving the whole collection the look of fading into a flowery field.
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A floral gown from Gucci's Pre-Fall collection.
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A sharp red suit from Gucci's Pre-Fall collection.
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Christian Dior's classic-looking Pre-Fall collection was shot to look as though the models were captured by street style photographers wearing the looks.
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A sumptuous silk gown with a cinched belt from Christian Dior's Pre-Fall collection.
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This suited look from Christian Dior's Pre-Fall collection feels at once old-fashioned and modern.
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Carven's Pre-Fall collection continues the brand's tailored, French-inspired aesthetic with trenches, chic skirts, and more.
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A warm, neutral look from Carven's Pre-Fall collection topped off with a shearling coat and ice-cold blue-silver accessories.
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A gamine cobalt dress from Carven's Pre-Fall collection, featuring a prim white collar.
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For Pre-Fall, Gucci went in a bold, '80s-inspired direction, featuring bold colors, metallics, and models with slicked-back hair.
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Liquid-like metallics on top of liquid-like metallics at Gucci's Pre-Fall collection.
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One of the more wearable looks in Gucci's Pre-Fall collection: a purple turtleneck paired with a red leather skirt.
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Celine's offerings toed the line between minimalist and over-the-top luxurious. Here, a modern update on the full-length fur coat.
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Layered exaggerated silhouettes make for wildly original suiting at Celine.
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Classic Celine for pre-fall: A slick, round-shouldered coat in bright cobalt.
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Alexander Wang channeled a lot of the futuristic sporty elements he'd played with for Spring 2012 into his latest pre-fall collection.
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Wang also played with new layering ideas, like pairing a semi-sheer sweater dress with a fitted lizard skirt.
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Dressed-up prep at Alexander Wang consists of a crisp white shirt, slick blazer, and printed mini.
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Pre-Fall 2012 is only the second season for the new creative director at Chloe, Clare Waight Keller, and her streamlined vision at the label is already becoming apparent.
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Keller was inspired by a series of candid '60s photographs by photographer Garry Winogrand, and created for Chloe what she describes as "a collection that has a clash of Sixties graphic modernity with the urban ease of the Seventies."
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A fluid red dress that channels the '70s end of Keller's inspiration for Chloe's pre-fall collection.
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Givenchy's Pre-Fall 2012 collection was littered with equestrian influences, with most looks featuring riding caps and stunning knee-high boots that will no doubt become an "it" accessory in six months.
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The collection also featured the kaleidoscopic-like prints designer Riccardo Tisci played with for Fall 2011, though with different figures and colors.
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The pre-fall collection was shot over the course of a day from a street. This architectural cocktail dress channels the designer's Spring 2012 collection, though the addition of tough boots and long leather gloves give it some edge.
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Yigal Azrouel's Pre-Fall 2011 collection dances the line between summertime and fall, featuring both graphic-printed jackets and lightweight suiting.
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A boyish pull-over is paired with a flouchy printed skirt in Azrouel's pre-fall collection.
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A winning combination at Yigal Azrouel: A bright cobalt coat paired with Azrouel's take on leopard print.
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Lanvin's pre-fall collection felt like it was the next step after designer Alber Elbaz's moody Spring 2011 collection.
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An emerald green cocktail dress has both ruffled details and is topped off with a matching ruffled fur.
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A structured cocktail dress at Lanvin is topped off with lace details for pre-fall.
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After a print-filled Spring 2012 collection, the designers behind Preen added some dresses for pre-fall that had a more graphic, color-block vibe for Pre-Fall 2012.
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Elsewhere, the designers' penchant for print-mixing was evident, as in this brilliant pairing of Dutch blue and orange.
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A dazzling blue printed dress is paired with dark black tights in Preen's Pre-Fall 2012 collection.
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The pre-fall collection for McQueen's diffusion line, McQ, had a tailored, aristocratic feel.
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A moody, romantic printed dress in McQ's Pre-Fall collection.
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Cinched waists and belted looks were a focal point for the collection, which we could easily see on a certain royal Catherine.
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Erdem has established a reputation for feminine, original prints, and the Pre-Fall collection is no exception. These bright, bold florals have a '60s pop to them.
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The collection also features a series of simple sheath silhouettes that include stunning embroidery and lace.
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A delicate lace blouse and a pencil skirt with floral embellishments from Erdem's Pre-Fall collection.
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Rachel Zoe's Pre-Fall 2012 collection bears her sexy, '70s-influence signature, though many of the silhouettes seem a bit sleeker for the season.
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A shredded long silk dress is paired with a snug leather jacket in Rachel Zoe's Pre-Fall collection.
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Similarly, a silky dress with a thigh slit is layered with a buckled leather vest in Rachel Zoe's collection.
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A classic, red carpet-ready gown from Rachel Zoe's Pre-Fall collection, rendered in a lovely wine-colored silk.
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True to form, Diane von Furstenberg's Pre-Fall collection featured bold prints and city-friendly layered looks.
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A crisp, matching suit with a '60s mod feel from Diane von Furstenberg.
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Sheer thigh-highs is a rather surprising foil for a chic suit with contrasting prints and a high-neck blouse.
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Diane von Furstenberg's collection also featured some edgy looks, like this sheer black dress with eyelet details.
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Giorgio Armani's Pre-Fall 2012 offerings are tailored, sophisticated, and boast a bit of an androgynous vibe.
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A cheery floral layer softens the edge of this strapless gown from Armani's Pre-Fall collection.
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Armani's take on a pajama suit, complete with slouchy silk trousers and a romantic jacket for Pre-Fall.
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Proenza Schouler
Proenza Schouler's collection is packed with the unique separates for which shoppers clamor.
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Proenza Schouler
The Proenza Schouler designers played with layers and textures for the season, with highlights including ultra-bright tweeds reminiscent of the ladylike neon pieces in their Spring 2011 collection.
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Proenza Schouler
A rich blue quilted jacket is paired with a leathery full skirt in Proenza Schouler's Pre-Fall 2012 collection.
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Proenza Schouler
Unusual -- yet incredibly chic -- pairings in Proenza Schouler's Pre-Fall 2012 collection include this chunky black knit sweater and a shimmery green brocade skirt.
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3.1 Phillip Lim
Phillip Lim's collections are always as chic as they are retail-friendly, and Pre-Fall 2012 is no exception: While the designer's Spring 2012 line referenced kites and feather-light fabrics, pre-fall feels sharper and more grounded.
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3.1 Phillip Lim
An unconventional pairing: a furry, sporty jacket paired with a crisp white skirt in Phillip Lim's Pre-Fall collection. Also of note: the label's signature "Pashli" tote silhouette, rendered in a smaller size in semi-sheer plastic.
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3.1 Phillip Lim
Evening pieces from Phillip Lim's Pre-Fall collection are relaxed, silky, and chic. Several looks from the collection play with comic book-inspired graphics, as seen on this clutch.
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Boy. by Band of Outsiders
For Boy. by Band of Outsider's Pre-Fall 2012 collection, designer Scott Sternberg was apparently inspired by Woody Allen’s "Manhattan" and the outfits Diane Keaton wore in the '70s. This suit certainly seems to be channeling Keaton.
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Boy. by Band of Outsiders
A chic, high-neck plaid dress boasts a peplum waist and an asymmetrical hem in Boy. by Band of Outsiders' Pre-Fall collection.
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Boy. by Band of Outsiders
A Band of Outsiders staple -- the bandage skirt -- is paired with a buttoned-up shirt and a jacket with cargo pockets for Pre-Fall 2012.
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Zac Posen
Zac Posen added some more wearable looks for Pre-Fall 2012 to his regular assortment of black-tie gowns, like this figure-flattering white dress.
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The majority of Posen's looks followed his signature mermaid silhouette, often embellished with Chinese-influenced embroidery.
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A breathtaking red gown from Posen's Pre-Fall collection featuring layers upon layers of origami-like folded silk and tulle.
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Vera Wang composed a more layered look for her Pre-Fall 2012 collection, with knits and separates contrasted with softer, printed items.
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A knit striped sweater is paired with a printed balloon skirt.
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An eye-catching abstract print is rendered on a slinky silk gown by Vera Wang.
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Olivier Theyskens' collection for Theory has a gritty, streetwise look for Pre-Fall 2012, contrasting metallic-flecked pieces with slouchy jeans.
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A strong-shouldered leather jacket paired with silver slim-cut pants gives the Theyskens for Theory collection a '90s glam vibe.
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A long printed dress is one of the few softer elements in the Theyskens for Theory Pre-Fall 2012 collection.
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Gilles Mendel's Pre-Fall collection for J. Mendel reads like a study in excess: glamorous fur-embellished jackets, silky separates, evening gowns.
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An Oscar-worthy peach gown is topped off with an oversize fur wrap at J. Mendel.
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A fur-and-leather jacket is paired with a textured pencil skirt at J. Mendel.
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Place bets on which starlet will be the first to wear this taupe architectural stunner from J. Mendel's Pre-Fall collection.
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Donna Karan described her Pre-Fall 2012 collection as "Wo-Man," choosing to contrast feminine elements like a pleated skirt with sharply belted, more masculine suiting.
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Asymmetrical details like a draped top and a slit skirt are topped off with a giant black bow in Donna Karan's Pre-Fall 2012 collection.
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A full-skirted dress in Donna Karan's Pre-Fall collection is cinched at the waist and boasts an explosion of pleats at the top.
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For Pre-Fall 2012, Francisco Costa didn't stray far from the minimal Calvin Klein formula, though the silhouettes in the collection feel more like contemporary takes on an old-fashioned look than a modern look in and of itself.
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The nipped-in waist on this two-piece look from Calvin Klein gives the impression of a peplum waist over a a full, pleated skirt.
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A glossy taupe suit boasts a jacket that looks at once contemporary and athletic, as well as retro-inspired in its tailoring.
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Thakoon composed a staggering amount of looks for both his main collection and his Addition spin-off. Well-known for his graphic prints, Thakoon's Pre-Fall collection had a softer feel, playing with textures like this striped mohair dress.
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A flattering cocktail dress in a bold stripe was one of the highlight's of Thakoon's Pre-Fall collection.
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With this collection, Thakoon showed he can also perfect a simple black dress.
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The stripe on this simple shirt-dress is at once eye-catching and soft around the edges, and the asymmetrical hem is a playful touch.
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Thakoon's Pre-Fall offerings for this Addition line, on the other hand, featured more punchy prints like this feminine take on a camouflage.
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This Addition look features an inventive layering combination: a flecked jacket with cargo details tops off a zipped-up caramel sweater and a flirty abstract miniskirt.
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More playful combinations in Thakoon's Addition line: a soft striped knit paired with an updated camouflage tank and an abstract skirt in the same tonal family.
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Rag & Bone's Pre-Fall 2012 offerings are in keeping with its downtown street-inspired aesthetic, with a focus on layering.
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This Pre-Fall Rag & Bone look appears to have as many as four layers on top -- a western-inspired black vest, a sporty cardigan with striped edges, a gray sweater, and then a black undershirt -- paired with a bright red leather miniskirt.
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AFP/Getty Images
Chanel has been hosting its Metiers d'Art Pre-Fall show since 2003. This year's collection was called "Paris-Bombay," and the influences were evident: In addition to the label's signature luxurious separates, the collection featured piles upon piles of Indian-inspired jewelry.
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AFP/Getty Images
Another look from the collection featured Chanel's take on a brocade paisley. Guests at the show were seated at large banquet tables.
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Christopher Bailey's Pre-Fall collection for Burberry Prorsum was packed with '30s-inspired below-the-knee silhouettes and cinched waists.
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The palette was rather somber -- lots of warm browns, taupes, navy, and a moody green.
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A plum-beige evening gown closed out the collection, topped off with a feminine bow belt.
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The Pre-Fall offerings at Zero + Maria Cornejo ran the gamut from fuzzy sweaters (and even one fuzzy dress) to colorful swimwear, though prints -- as ever -- remain a focus.
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The designer continues to play with relaxed silhouettes that have an almost sculptural appeal, like this draped cream dress.
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A jaw-dropping printed dress combines a gray urban landscape with green, pastoral imagery.
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Designer Reed Krakoff continues to perfect his slick approach to uptown sophistication, and in may ways Pre-Fall represents what Krakoff does best: retail-friendly luxury wear.
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Never one to shy away from luxurious details, Krakoff added double-take-inducing lizard panels to this elegant coat.
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The designer also played with prints: the washed-out vivid green print on this skirt is particularly striking.
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Jenni Kayne is a California girl at heart, so her Pre-Fall collection is an eclectic combination of cheery separates and pops of fur.
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A fur-topped trench is paired with a cable-knit sweater and short-shorts.
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A graphic print sweater completes a simple pencil skirt look.
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Courtesy of Jason Wu
The increasingly important pre-fall season offers designers a chance to "preview" what they have cooking for fall as well as boost their mid-summer sales. Inspired by Indian maharajas and the illustrations of Charley Harper, Jason Wu's pre-fall collection was a perfect marriage of the designers' playful and super-luxe tastes.
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Courtesy of Jason Wu
Wu's signature preppy pullovers were standouts of the pre-fall collection, including this blue and green number styled with a slim leather skirt.
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Courtesy of Jason Wu
Lightweight outerwear options (perfect for "fall transition" weather) were also in abundant supply. Our favorite: this navy-check coat with sharp, swooping layers.
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Getty Images
Oscar de la Renta took a restrained turn with his Pre-Fall 2012 collection, showing pieces like perfectly cut shift dresses, wide-leg trousers and simple bias cut gowns. Of course, "restrained" for De La Renta also means plenty of hand beading and embroidery.
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Eveningwear had an ease this season, like this dramatic pink gown that was one of the finale looks.
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De La Renta made the biggest statements with his accessories -- 1970s-inspired oxford mules, box clutches and lace cloche hats.
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Courtesy of Michael Kors
For pre-fall, Michael Kors found inspiration in the life of Ann Bonfoey Taylor, a "Colorado aristocrat" and one-time ski designer whose penchant for cowboy hats and furry overcoats were major themes in his finished collection.
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Courtesy of Michael Kors
An ink-splattered overcoat and cuffed culottes make a smart ensemble at Michael Kors.
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Courtesy of Michael Kors
Eveningwear options like this elegant floor-length skirt were given a western twist with the addition of big belt buckles and button-down shirts.
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Courtesy of Rachel Roy
Rachel Roy looked to art-deco inspirations for a fresh, feminine Pre-Fall collection.
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Courtesy of Rachel Roy
Fans of Roy's party-perfect dresses won't be disappointed by her Pre-Fall line up, which includes cool graphic elements and fun, textural details.
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Courtesy of Rachel Roy
The flapper-like shape and cool diamond motif make this little black dress a real standout of Roy's collection.
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Courtesy of DKNY
DKNY's Pre-Fall collection seemed to encompass a number of trends in a single go: saturated color, preppy stripes, florals and even geometric-inspired patterns.
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Courtesy of DKNY
Sporty shapes were a major theme in DKNY's pre-fall collection. This dress, for example, looks ready for the tennis court.
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Courtesy of DKNY
This flowery, long-sleeve jumpsuit is sure to be a hit come next August, when fashion folks are still feeling their florals but looking for extra warmth.
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