Dark colors, bold patterns and shimmering fabrics emerged as prominent themes from New York’s Fall 2012 Fashion Week, which concluded Thursday after a packed schedule of more than 300 shows.

While runway fashion tends to be over the top for most of us mere mortals, it sets the tone for what to expect in stores this fall. With around 320 shows and presentations this season — a 60% increase from five years ago, according to industry digest Business of Fashion — that’s a big pool of inspiration to draw upon.

“New York Fashion Week just keeps getting bigger and bigger, and the calendar more packed,” said Leah Chernikoff, executive editor of style blog Fashionista, which had wall-to-wall coverage of Fashion Week. “There’s something nice about New York Fashion Week being so democratic — anyone with some serious hustle (and cash) can show.”

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Fashion Week also marks some of the biggest stateside gatherings of industry heavyweights, acolytes and the people who love to document them. Those milling about the periphery of shows tend to generate headlines and images equally as captivating as the runway.

“Street style and the folks who document it has become such a phenomenon,” Chernikoff said. “The shows are just as big outside the venues as inside on the runway. Swarms of photographers stake out Lincoln Center, Milk Studios and the galleries in Chelsea to get a shot of the peacocking well-heeled editors, stylists, bloggers and buyers who attend the shows.”

On the runways, blanket coats, furs and structural outerwear figured prominently, in a nod to the season. They ran the gamut: luxurious and classic alpaca coats from Jill Stuart, big and cuddly jackets, courtesy of Michael Kors, fur-lined and embellished trenches and pea coats from Altuzarra.

Pantsuits were among the highlights of reality show darling Rachel Zoe’s first runway show for her third collection. Another celebrity outside the fashion world, Victoria Beckham, was praised for her skin-tight yet seemingly practical collection of knit and jersey dresses.


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