Designer's mix-match flair reigns on runway

It was fitting that Marc Jacobs picked George Gershwin's “Rhapsody in Blue” to accompany his spring collection this week at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.

“Rhapsody” is Gershwin's finest work – or at least his most daring. Some might argue the same about Monday's collection for Jacobs.

Where other designers have stumbled trying to achieve a similar look, a high-wattage mixture of patterns, fabric textures and style eras, Jacobs pulled it off with ease.

He mixed a shiny floral print skirt with a plaid flannel sleeveless top.

He paired a matching belted boyfriend jacket with cropped pants.

He created a sundress using fabric with wide, bold magenta and yellow stripes.

Only Jacobs, who is known for his dramatics on the runway, would dare such combinations, especially in an economic climate where missteps can be costly. Jacobs had hinted he was heading in this direction. His last few seasons on the runway have been less about conforming and more about making bold statements.

But the looks might end up a difficult sell to even Jacobs faithfuls who don't have his mix-and-match sense. For those, Jacobs trotted out a few less-complicated pieces, including a double-breasted shorts suit and another less dramatic version of the sundress in cobalt blue and yellow stripes.

Ports 1961

The Ports 1961 collection was inspired by totem poles in designer Tia Cibani's native Canada. Her mission with the collection was to elongate the body through design elements, such as lower waistlines and longer hemlines.

The result was a mixture of structured maxi and column dresses layered with long jackets in rich poppy, cobalt blue, mustard yellow and magenta. On top of those pieces, she added dramatic statement necklaces by London-based jeweler Lina Peterson, and with a few outfits, she added exotic, tribal-inspired hats, by Karen Henriksen Millinery, also from London.

Some of her best work this season, however, were the more simple pieces, such as the khaki double-breasted suit or the copper jacquard sheath.

Monique Lhuillier

Monique Lhuillier stuck to what she knows best with a collection of elegant and feminine dresses, for casual or dressier evenings out, some with just a hint of embellishment. One of the best examples was a sleeveless denim pleated cocktail dress with beading at the shoulders.

She also tapped into the overlay trend with a few cocktail dresses covered in tulle, while most of her gowns were goddess-like with printed flowing chiffon in wheat or sea blue.

Catherine Malandrino

Malandrino also played heavily with layers and textures, adding overlays such as nude tulle and silk fishnet on her lace and satin dresses to create another level of refinement to her collection.

There were plenty of small details, including lace cutouts, embroidery on leather, scalloping and intricate pleating.

While the collection, for the most part, was a solid reflection of the understated chic she's perfected so well in recent seasons, there were a few interesting additions.

Malandrino herself took her bow in an American flag dress, a look she created a decade ago and is expected to reissue.