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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A look from Chloe's Pre-Fall 2012 collection.
Pre-Fall is becoming an increasingly important season for designers, and Alexander McQueen's offerings felt as dramatic and detailed as any runway collection.
Emerald green with lace details for Alexander McQueen's Pre-Fall collection.
A chic cape in Alexander McQueen's Pre-Fall collection.
Many of the looks in Alexander McQueen's Pre-Fall collection felt almost like period pieces, with peplum waists, cinching belts, and full skirts.
Louis Vuitton's Pre-Fall collection is an eclectic mix of textures and colors -- all with a vaguely retro feel.
Head-to-toe green at Louis Vuitton's Pre-Fall collection preview.
An updated, eclectic take on a flapper in Louis Vuitton's Pre-Fall collection.
Victor & Rolf's Pre-Fall collection conjured a moody, romantic landscape that seemed like something out of an Edward Burton movie.
A silk tie-neck blouse is paired with wide-leg trousers in Victor & Rolf's Pre-Fall collection.
A dramatic blouse in Victor & Rolf's Pre-Fall collection offers ruffles to spare.
Tibi's Pre-Fall collections offered seriously modern silhouettes in ultra-bright hues.
A suit from Tibi's Pre-Fall collection.
A simple blouse and asymmetrical, floral skirt from Tibi's Pre-Fall collection.
The Row, by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, offered luxurious separates and moody styling for its Pre-Fall collection.
A black velvet dress with a sheer panel in The Row's Pre-Fall collection.
A slick leather jacket and a crisp button-down are among the classic separates in The Row's Pre-Fall collection.
London-based Stella McCartney staged her Pre-Fall collection in New York this year, which featured some playful looks like a logo-heavy suit.
Other pieces bore McCartney's classic, minimalist styling, like this long white cream coat.
A silver brocade suit from Stella McCartney's Pre-Fall collection.
A delicate black-and-white lace dress in Stella McCartney's Pre-Fall collection is tempered by tough boots.
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.
An eye-catching color-block dress from Roksanda Ilincic's Pre-Fall collection.
A dazzling combination of bright yellow and aquamarine in Roksanda Ilincic's Pre-Fall collection.
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.
A floral gown from Gucci's Pre-Fall collection.
A sharp red suit from Gucci's Pre-Fall collection.
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.
A sumptuous silk gown with a cinched belt from Christian Dior's Pre-Fall collection.
This suited look from Christian Dior's Pre-Fall collection feels at once old-fashioned and modern.
Carven's Pre-Fall collection continues the brand's tailored, French-inspired aesthetic with trenches, chic skirts, and more.
A warm, neutral look from Carven's Pre-Fall collection topped off with a shearling coat and ice-cold blue-silver accessories.
A gamine cobalt dress from Carven's Pre-Fall collection, featuring a prim white collar.
For Pre-Fall, Gucci went in a bold, '80s-inspired direction, featuring bold colors, metallics, and models with slicked-back hair.
Liquid-like metallics on top of liquid-like metallics at Gucci's Pre-Fall collection.
One of the more wearable looks in Gucci's Pre-Fall collection: a purple turtleneck paired with a red leather skirt.
Celine's offerings toed the line between minimalist and over-the-top luxurious. Here, a modern update on the full-length fur coat.
Layered exaggerated silhouettes make for wildly original suiting at Celine.
Classic Celine for pre-fall: A slick, round-shouldered coat in bright cobalt.
Alexander Wang channeled a lot of the futuristic sporty elements he'd played with for Spring 2012 into his latest pre-fall collection.
Wang also played with new layering ideas, like pairing a semi-sheer sweater dress with a fitted lizard skirt.
Dressed-up prep at Alexander Wang consists of a crisp white shirt, slick blazer, and printed mini.
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.
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."
A fluid red dress that channels the '70s end of Keller's inspiration for Chloe's pre-fall collection.
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.
The collection also featured the kaleidoscopic-like prints designer Riccardo Tisci played with for Fall 2011, though with different figures and colors.
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.
Yigal Azrouel's Pre-Fall 2011 collection dances the line between summertime and fall, featuring both graphic-printed jackets and lightweight suiting.
A boyish pull-over is paired with a flouchy printed skirt in Azrouel's pre-fall collection.
A winning combination at Yigal Azrouel: A bright cobalt coat paired with Azrouel's take on leopard print.
Lanvin's pre-fall collection felt like it was the next step after designer Alber Elbaz's moody Spring 2011 collection.
An emerald green cocktail dress has both ruffled details and is topped off with a matching ruffled fur.
A structured cocktail dress at Lanvin is topped off with lace details for pre-fall.
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.
Elsewhere, the designers' penchant for print-mixing was evident, as in this brilliant pairing of Dutch blue and orange.
A dazzling blue printed dress is paired with dark black tights in Preen's Pre-Fall 2012 collection.
The pre-fall collection for McQueen's diffusion line, McQ, had a tailored, aristocratic feel.
A moody, romantic printed dress in McQ's Pre-Fall collection.
Cinched waists and belted looks were a focal point for the collection, which we could easily see on a certain royal Catherine.
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.
The collection also features a series of simple sheath silhouettes that include stunning embroidery and lace.
A delicate lace blouse and a pencil skirt with floral embellishments from Erdem's Pre-Fall collection.
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.
A shredded long silk dress is paired with a snug leather jacket in Rachel Zoe's Pre-Fall collection.
Similarly, a silky dress with a thigh slit is layered with a buckled leather vest in Rachel Zoe's collection.
A classic, red carpet-ready gown from Rachel Zoe's Pre-Fall collection, rendered in a lovely wine-colored silk.
True to form, Diane von Furstenberg's Pre-Fall collection featured bold prints and city-friendly layered looks.
A crisp, matching suit with a '60s mod feel from Diane von Furstenberg.
Sheer thigh-highs is a rather surprising foil for a chic suit with contrasting prints and a high-neck blouse.
Diane von Furstenberg's collection also featured some edgy looks, like this sheer black dress with eyelet details.
Giorgio Armani's Pre-Fall 2012 offerings are tailored, sophisticated, and boast a bit of an androgynous vibe.
A cheery floral layer softens the edge of this strapless gown from Armani's Pre-Fall collection.
Armani's take on a pajama suit, complete with slouchy silk trousers and a romantic jacket for Pre-Fall.
Proenza Schouler
Proenza Schouler's collection is packed with the unique separates for which shoppers clamor.
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.
Proenza Schouler
A rich blue quilted jacket is paired with a leathery full skirt in Proenza Schouler's Pre-Fall 2012 collection.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The majority of Posen's looks followed his signature mermaid silhouette, often embellished with Chinese-influenced embroidery.
A breathtaking red gown from Posen's Pre-Fall collection featuring layers upon layers of origami-like folded silk and tulle.
Vera Wang composed a more layered look for her Pre-Fall 2012 collection, with knits and separates contrasted with softer, printed items.
A knit striped sweater is paired with a printed balloon skirt.
An eye-catching abstract print is rendered on a slinky silk gown by Vera Wang.
Olivier Theyskens' collection for Theory has a gritty, streetwise look for Pre-Fall 2012, contrasting metallic-flecked pieces with slouchy jeans.
A strong-shouldered leather jacket paired with silver slim-cut pants gives the Theyskens for Theory collection a '90s glam vibe.
A long printed dress is one of the few softer elements in the Theyskens for Theory Pre-Fall 2012 collection.
Gilles Mendel's Pre-Fall collection for J. Mendel reads like a study in excess: glamorous fur-embellished jackets, silky separates, evening gowns.
An Oscar-worthy peach gown is topped off with an oversize fur wrap at J. Mendel.
A fur-and-leather jacket is paired with a textured pencil skirt at J. Mendel.
Place bets on which starlet will be the first to wear this taupe architectural stunner from J. Mendel's Pre-Fall collection.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A glossy taupe suit boasts a jacket that looks at once contemporary and athletic, as well as retro-inspired in its tailoring.
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.
A flattering cocktail dress in a bold stripe was one of the highlight's of Thakoon's Pre-Fall collection.
With this collection, Thakoon showed he can also perfect a simple black dress.
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.
Thakoon's Pre-Fall offerings for this Addition line, on the other hand, featured more punchy prints like this feminine take on a camouflage.
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.
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.
Rag & Bone's Pre-Fall 2012 offerings are in keeping with its downtown street-inspired aesthetic, with a focus on layering.
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.
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.
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.
Christopher Bailey's Pre-Fall collection for Burberry Prorsum was packed with '30s-inspired below-the-knee silhouettes and cinched waists.
The palette was rather somber -- lots of warm browns, taupes, navy, and a moody green.
A plum-beige evening gown closed out the collection, topped off with a feminine bow belt.
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.
The designer continues to play with relaxed silhouettes that have an almost sculptural appeal, like this draped cream dress.
A jaw-dropping printed dress combines a gray urban landscape with green, pastoral imagery.
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.
Never one to shy away from luxurious details, Krakoff added double-take-inducing lizard panels to this elegant coat.
The designer also played with prints: the washed-out vivid green print on this skirt is particularly striking.
Jenni Kayne is a California girl at heart, so her Pre-Fall collection is an eclectic combination of cheery separates and pops of fur.
A fur-topped trench is paired with a cable-knit sweater and short-shorts.
A graphic print sweater completes a simple pencil skirt look.
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.
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.
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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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.
Eveningwear had an ease this season, like this dramatic pink gown that was one of the finale looks.
De La Renta made the biggest statements with his accessories -- 1970s-inspired oxford mules, box clutches and lace cloche hats.
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.
Courtesy of Michael Kors
An ink-splattered overcoat and cuffed culottes make a smart ensemble at Michael Kors.
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.
Courtesy of Rachel Roy
Rachel Roy looked to art-deco inspirations for a fresh, feminine Pre-Fall collection.
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.
Courtesy of Rachel Roy
The flapper-like shape and cool diamond motif make this little black dress a real standout of Roy's collection.
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.
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.
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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