NEW YORK (Reuters) - Fashion Week in New York started on Thursday with designer runways shrouded in gray, and only occasional rays of color breaking through the layers of smoke, coal, mercury, lead and graphite hues.
Designers from Nicholas K to BCBGMaxazria swathed models in knitted wraps over jackets over tunics over slacks -- all in monochromatic tones that mostly clung to shades of gray, and rarely strayed further than dense military green or dusty slate blue.
The designers were the first to kick off the semi-annual fashion extravaganza in New York, where more than 90 designers are unveiling collections at the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in Manhattan's Lincoln Center. Hundreds of others will be showing their lines in other venues around the city through next Thursday.
The looks they are unveiling are designs for the fall and winter 2013 season.
Loose cuts dominated on Thursday, bringing an updated grunge look, particularly at BCBG, where every model sported a saggy, knitted hipster beanie.
"Gray looks like the No. 1 choice this year," said Antonio Olimpio, a fashion photographer's scout who was attending the shows to find resources for photo shoots.
"I love my grays and blacks," said the 19-year-old Olimpio. "The contrasting colors clean up the look. It's a refreshing take on fall."
Occasional breaks in the overcast tones on the catwalks brought flashes of burgundy and teal, although the go-to color of the day was purple.
Violescent dresses, skirts and shirts were paired with black-and-white coordinating pieces by Richard Chai Love. The designer cut lavender damask into dresses, coats and suits.
Nicholas K, meanwhile, showed a handful of smoky mauve fashions, including a luscious knitted wrap and a luminescent jacket.
Timo Weiland employed purple and black damask in pants and a stunning suit with an ebony fur-edged jacket and skirt. Much of his collection was anchored in gray and tan damask, black-and-white box plaid and military green leather.
Richard Chai Love also featured boxy plaids, some black and white, others brown and white, as well as cotton and nylon pieces in graphite.
Among the most striking fashions were those in Nicholas K's collection, which featured fabrics he described as lead, coal, mercury and smoke that appeared to be held together with a single slim strap of black leather across the chest or back.
For the most part, the collections were stocked with layered knits, leathers and wools that evoked a feeling of warmth, especially when envisioned against chilly steel skies of autumn.
Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Leslie Adler