03/19/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Fashion Week: Don't Sound The Death Knell Yet (VIDEO)

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Is fashion dead (again)? Not so proclaims the industry crowd front row at the catwalks this New York Fashion Week. So perhaps it's fitting that the mood was hopeful in the most resilient city in the world. At DKNY, InStyle's Hal Rubenstein was definitely not toning it down. Clad in a fur-collared coat, albeit one that's been in his closet awhile, he affirmed, "If you're going to present yourself to the world as defeated, then you will be defeated." And while some designers might seem down for the count by eliminating their shows or scaling them down to modest presentations, designers like Donna Karan were imploring those with a few bucks left in their wallets to get out and shop not to pad her bottom line, but instead to support the workers from the mills to the showrooms who comprise this billion dollar business, lest it meet the same fate as the car industry.

But let's be real. This ain't your mama's Fashion Week. Not seeing Swarovski-encrusted goodies in the schwag bags this season. The mainstream is spreading in the tents like wildfire, with sponsors ranging from McDonald's "McCafé" to K-Y stimulating the economy at fashion week this season. But just as the fashion in crowd has been mixing their Prada with their Target T's for some time now, J.Crew darling (and First Lady) Michelle Obama further ignited that trend and has set the tone for recession dressing.

And while change agent Michelle might not be driven by the trends, she's definitely setting them. A season ago, it might've been "Jason Who?", but this week, everyone was talking Jason Wu. With some of the biggies stepping back this season, it's opened the door for the likes of Wu and other young designers to emerge and make a name for themselves. It was the first season at New York Fashion Week for Monarchy, and young Hollywood fans like Jennifer Love Hewitt and the new 90210's AnnaLynne McCord held court and gushed in the front row.

Of course, the rest of the week remains to be seen. As the bold-faced names continue to show, what will the fashionistas tell? If the first few days are any indication, fashion isn't dead. It just seems to need a little life support.

We spoke with Jason Wu shortly before his show on Friday, where he told us Mrs. Obama "is not trend-driven. And I think that's important in this time." We also met up with Glenda Bailey, the editor-in-chief of Harper's Bazaar on Sunday, where she listed J. Crew as one of the labels she was wearing.


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