02/15/2009 07:20 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Color is Back for Fall! A Report from Fashion Week

Fall Fashion Week is half way through. Color is back as designers try to give us a rosy outlook on a pared down budget.

If Wall Street rises and falls with the state of hemlines, we're in for a bit of a tumble as the fashion world drastically tightens its proverbial belt. The spartan, sometimes austere shows are a little unsettling as the week starts out in gray. The only glitz so far, belonged to ThisDay Arise. A magazine! They brought out modeling power, Tyson Beckford and Alek Wek. Capping the catwalk for Xuly Bet, was the fire-starter Grace Jones who received a standing ovation.

Everyone seems to be turning away from the spectacle. Wang went with a presentation so did some other prominent names, as has been widely over-reported.

Michelle Obama was a no show despite Fern Mallis's hopes. She was rumored to be attending The Heart Truth collection. Tim Gunn was a stand in. The normally cool Gunn admits he was a last minute choice as the show's master of ceremonies. In a world set on buying J. Crew, stalwart houses are reinventing, bracing and trying to show the world that there's a little bit of sprinkle left in them yet. (I'm only reporting the above because there have been unsubstantiated persistent rumors swirling the tents that Michelle Obama was to be at Fashion Week in some form.)

Celebrity sightings have been a tad thin. Lindsay Lohan hid in the DJ booth at the Charlotte Ronson show and Jennifer Love Hewitt looked a touch thin at Adam and perfectly gleeful at Mara Hoffman (the show that denoted the cultural sub notes best). Most celebs are heading to the off-site shows, where the press gaggle is kept at a distance, for lack of room.

So far, Jason Wu is the smash hit of Fashion week, with one of the few shows full of real star power, Anna Wintour herself is supposed to have smiled.

Moving away from the tents and heading into smaller more exclusive venues has been the true trend. It's decentralized the Bryant Park media lens and scattered Fashion Week around the city. This has contributed to less frenzy, since presentations just don't have the collective energy of a production in the Park - as a throng of people wait with anticipation and palpable energy for the designer to wow them.

Value is the new buzzword, as clothing becomes something you keep vs. disposable. Lacoste did a great job of conveying the new Fashion Week feel early on. With an enjoyable line of stayed and strong clothing running the color spectrum and avoiding the many tailored looks of all black. I'm frankly excited that black is out.

The models are all-American again; Monarchy exemplifies the look. And not the Tommy Hilfiger variety. The men are masculine, the women diverse and from all over the globe, even though the First Lady hasn't graced the fashion world, the "Obama effect" is strong and breaking down style barriers.

Many houses are looking to other economic downturns for their inspiration, eluding to the twenties and thirties and to the seventies and eighties in about equal parts. John Bartlett went as far as to have his show above a speakeasy.

Powerhouses like Diana Von Furstenberg went as far as to sell seats to her show, keeping out this unruly blogger from her midst. Yet from the looks of the show I think she took the seventies feel a bit too far. Say it ain't so Diana! NO!

Overall the trends are scattered, there's little focus as everyone tries to define what this economy means to them and their client base. The music is loud and evoking the new ear. While top tier fashion parlors are cutting back from production, variety and the many frills that come with clothing. The low to mid level lines, like Adam & Nicolas K, are trying to wow with amazing style and a look you're likely to keep.

More shows await; I'm excited to see some of the bigger names later in the week.