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Relax, romance is back on the catwalk

If there was a single message to take away from New York Fashion Week, it was this: Take it easy, fashionistas.

Languid, fluid styles were dominant in the eight days of spring previews that wrapped up last night. Silhouettes were long and loose, sometimes billowy, in chiffon, tulle and silk.

It was a far cry from the warrior look that has dominated the runways in recent seasons, and it reflected a new optimism that also came through in the use of white and sheer fabrics. "I think the collections have been very optimistic. The best of them have been very colourful and pretty and romantic," said Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour.

The final day of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week featured the return of Gwen Stefani and shows by Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein and Oscar de la Renta. Now fashion insiders take off to London, Milan and Paris. Stefani put on an encore last night for the last big event of Fashion Week.

She sent out mostly African-tribal looks, including some flirty dresses with mixed prints, a short shift with full mosiac-pattern beading and a white tuxedo with hand beading down the sides of the legs of the skinny trousers.

There were some softer, pretty looks -- a silk chiffon dress with ruffled shoulders, among them -- and she even sneaked in a tailored menswear-style pantsuit.