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Eric Wilson is InStyle's fashion news director. For more real-time fashion week insights, follow him on Twitter and Instagram

InStyle.com
Sep 10, 2015 @ 5:15 pm

“Do you feel like there’s a whole shift happening in fashion?” Lubov Azria, chief creative officer of BCBG Max Azria, asked me backstage, minutes before the start of the first big show of New York Fashion Week.

Oh, you could say that.

New York’s runways are in upheaval this season, having been uprooted from Lincoln Center to all sorts of far-flung places, like this cavernous hall attached to an old post office in midtown that is fancifully called “The Arc at Moynihan Station.” It’s so much more convenient, really. Especially if you happen to be attending a fashion show and realize you need stamps.

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But let’s not dwell on logistical issues, as we’ll be here all day, and Azria has a show to put on. A nice, cheerful show, too, which is what she was talking about when she mentioned the sense that a change is in the air.

“The rules are broken now,” she said. “It’s so much more exciting.”

That is certainly true on many levels, from the instant online coverage of all the runway action to the explosive business of street style photography, which is quickly becoming a job so dangerous that only true daredevils need apply. You must be willing to fling yourself into oncoming traffic without a second glance, or even a first glance, for that matter, if you wish to bring home that lucrative 1,348,692nd picture of that platinum blonde girl with the leather AC/DC jacket and inappropriate footwear as she tap-tap-taps on her iPhone. Hats off to you.

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What’s really exciting about fashion week is when change comes to the runways, and BCBG’s new look was a departure in the sense that it was so purposefully carefree and playful. Azria said the collection was influenced by her own back yard – sunny California and the skate, surfing, and arts scenes that so richly defined the midcentury L.A. spirit. Think boho bucket hats, and tie-dyed knits, patchwork fabrics in a pastel and denim palette, delightful dresses shown with fringed moccasins and knit legwarmers, and many more looks that reflect both a potential turn for optimism in fashion and the popular influence of music festivals on So-Cal style (pictured, below).

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Likewise, Lauren Conrad’s extravagantly named but value priced new collection for Kohl’s, LC Lauren Conrad Runway Limited Edition, was also an unexpected delight, in the sense that it was exceptionally tasteful. Conrad’s many variations of lacy white dresses were extremely sweet, not the sort of body baring fare that has plagued celebrity fashion of late (pictured, below). That’s the sort of change we can all embrace.

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Of course, you can’t draw conclusions on Day One of the spring collections, which will not doubt veer into many dark and dangerous territories both on the runways and the streets over the next 30 days, so stay tuned. And let me know if you need anything from the post office.

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