Sporting Style At Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week In New York

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Often touted as the “Super Bowl” of fashion, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week brings the biggest names in the business together to exhibit their newest collections. In recent years, athletes have become a prominent presence at runway shows, making a name for themselves among the fashion elite. From the newcomers to the veterans, sports stars are embracing high-style more than ever. Quarterbacks, tennis players and power forwards are among those being tapped by top fashion houses to front campaigns and assist with design. As a result, male and female athletes are becoming game changers in the world of fashion.

At Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York this past week, sports reigned supreme once again. Athletes took time out of their training and playing schedules to observe new trends for the upcoming Spring/Summer 2012 fashion season. Sports stars have quickly replaced celebrities as front row fixtures at runway shows and they continue to serve as muses for fashion’s most influential player,Vogue magazine Editor-in-Chief, Anna Wintour. Wintour is so loyal to her sporting friends that she even skipped shows in favor of watching pal Roger Federer compete in the U.S. Open semi-finals.

Betsey Johnson © Rex Features/Rex Features/ZUMAPRESS.com

For athletes, the competition continues to grow off-the-court, the field and the ice, as they battle to score on the fashion front. Below is your ticket to Sporting Style at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York:

NBA players are notorious for their off-court interest in fashion and with the lockout looming, they have plenty of time to refine their sartorial style. Basketball’s biggest stars have  dominated show front rows during this Fashion Week and among them was the NBA’s top trendsetter, Dwyane Wade.The Miami Heat guard was seen sitting “stageside” at Richard Chai and Rag & Bone, a prime spot for mingling with Wintour. Perhaps they were discussing his next fashion endeavor? During the Fashion’s Night Out festivities last week, Wade revealed that he’s working on plans to develop a fashion line of his own.

Wade’s teammate Chris Bosh sat front row with his wife Adrienne to view the Cynthia Rowley collection and checked out the new sporty-chic line from Lacoste.

Rounding out the Heat’s “Big 3,” LeBron James made a buzzed about appearance at the Michael Bastian show. Sitting beside Stefano Tonchi, editor of The New York Times Style Magazine, James’ attire included a preppy, rugby shirt and dark shades.
 

Since moving to New York, Amar’e Stoudemire has established himself as a male style icon. He nabbed a front row seat at Richard Chai, looking chic and cool in a chocolate brown ensemble. In addition to working on his personal style, Amar’e has also spent time refining his design skills.To coincide with the kick-off of Fashion Week, the Knicks frontman released his much anticipated women’s clothing range, a co-collaboration with designer Rachel Roy, which is available at Macy’s.

Carmelo Anthony won’t let his teammate steal all of the spotlight. The stylish Knicks forward was spotted front and center to view the Rag & Bone and Tommy Hilfiger collections. Just like Amar'e, a move to New York means a major fashion upgrade for Melo.

In an effort to keep up with his Kardashian wife, Kris Humphries has had no choice but to refine his off-court style of dress. He sat up front at Jill Stuart in his signature jeans and button-down cardigan combo and checked out the Abby Dawn offerings with Kim.
 
It was an unlikely pair, but Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard and tennis star Victoria Azarenka came together to host the 1st Annual Style360 "Sport and Style Party." The Style360 showcase hosts events and runway shows featuring independent designers and emerging brands. In addition to their hosting duties, Howard took some time to view the Y-3 collection and walk in the Marithe & Francois Girbaud show, while Azarenka put her modeling skills to the test and took to the runway for the Samantha Black fashion show.
 
Though NBA players have been the clear athlete majority at Fashion Week, Brad Richards represented the world of hockey. The NY Ranger kicked-off his inaguural season in New York by showcasing his keen eye for style. The fashion-loving Richards suited up for the Tommy Hilfiger runway show, one of his favorite designers.
 
We couldn’t talk Fashion Week and sports without mention of male figure skater Johnny Weir. Betsy Johnson, Chris Benz and Timo Weiland were among his show selections. Always a sartorial standout, Weir’s Fashion Week ensembles ranged from a black jumpsuit to bold red pants to a mesh cut-out top, with a different colored Birkin bag in tow for each show.
 
As evident in the week’s activities, fashion continues to influence sports and vise versa. Not only did athletes comes out to support their favorite designers and prep their new off-season wardrobes, but fashion houses returned the favor, incorporating sports-inspired designs within their runway collections. Alexander Wang has used athletic references in the past and this time around, NASCAR, motocross and surf were the basis for his new line.
 
The line between sports, entertainment and lifestyle continues to blur as was evidenced both on and off the runways.
 

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