| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Stylists, bloggers, former models and budding fashionistas aimed to make a splash off the runway as they descended upon New York Fashion Week this week, flaunting their own original looks and aiming to be snapped by photographers.
With the spotlight during the week-long event focused on the 90 designers showing their 2012 Fall/Winter Collections, the colorful, creative and sometimes bizarre attire worn by those hanging around the shows vied for attention with those on the main catwalks.
Indeed, many trend-setting fashion devotees can be seen posing and waltzing into Lincoln Center, where most of the main designers show, as if they were starring in their own private show. Some aim for fame, others to simply show off their love of fashion.
"It's all about seeing what is new and what is hot," said fashion stylist, image consultant and blogger Joy Adaeze while posing for photographers after viewing a show. "This season I've been inspired by African prints."
The 27-year-old New Yorker who grew up in Nigeria, created her look centered on an African print top, accenting it with a red skirt, faux fur wrap, snake-skin high heel boots. She never misses fashion week and aims to dress the part.
"I love hats -- turbans and hats. It's my trademark. It adds to the look," she said about the vintage sailor hat perched on side of her turbaned head.
The outfits of fashion insiders at the shows were as varied as those on the catwalk with the style-conscious eager to see and be seen, and photographed, by the hordes of photographers who cover the semi-annual event which attracts about 232,000 people.
This year's event is expected to generate $865 million for the city coffers, up from an estimated $773 million five years ago, according to the New York City Economic Development Corporation.
BOLD COLORS, STATEMENT HEELS
Despite the chilly temperatures for her first visit to Fashion Week, California-based stylist Lil Debbie chose oversized leopard sunglasses and matching shorts, accompanied by thigh-high stockings, lace-up work boots, a Led Zeppelin T-shirt and enormous jewel-encrusted hoop earrings.
Bold colors, animal prints, real and faux fur coats, hats and wraps, statement heels, sunglasses and loads of jewelry were in abundance by those attending the shows.
A fashion blogger and video journalist known as AK-47 decided on an "elegant and classy" look with his Betsey Johnson frilly lace dress and Alexander McQueen dinner jacket.
Although only 21, it is his fifth season at the shows. His look was specifically for Fashion Week and aimed at getting more hits for his videos.
"It's a good place to do trend analysis and see where the industry is heading," said the college student from Connecticut.
Retired model and fashion show veteran Arthur Gonsalves, a regular attendee for the past 18 years, braved the winter chill in a red-dyed full-length fur coat with matching hat, complemented by dragon cowboy boots.
Some aimed to celebrate inspirations from the past, including stylist Shail Upadhya, who said his outfit was a tribute to John Lennon. Made for him by his tailor, it features faces of the late Beatles singer.
Turbaned London-based celebrity stylist Marisn Kihogo offset her shocking pink trousers, silver sandals and tribal jewelry with a faux fur wrap.
"As a fashion person I come here first to be inspired and I love that my personal style can inspire other people at the same time," said Adaeze.
"It works hand-in-hand for me. I know that Fashion Week is a place to come and make your own mark as a fashion professional."
(Reporting by Patricia Reaney, additional reporting by Allison Joyce, editing by Christine Kearney)