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New York Fashion Week

New York Fashion Week

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AFTER a short hiatus the Sass & Bide designers Sarah-Jane Clarke and Heidi Middleton were back on the New York Fashion Week catwalk presenting their eighth Bryant Park show.

Just under a year ago, Middleton was diagnosed with breast cancer - a day after her second child was born. The designers chose to pull out of New York's September summer collections while Middleton had treatment. She has been given the all clear but lost a friend to cancer late last year. The designers' autumn/winter runway show, Rainbows for Kate, shown on Saturday night, is in her honour.

"Rainbows for Kate is a tribute to a very good friend - her strong and amazing spirit," said Middleton. "It's the most personal collection we have designed inspired by emotion, friendship and life."

Taking September off also allowed the duo time to reassess where the label is headed. And the message on the catwalk: stick with what you know.

Rainbows for Kate is not a new look for Sass & Bide, rather a strong statement that says the designers have confidence in what they do. Sexy mini dresses, capes, strong silhouettes, cool jackets and plenty of sequins and denim - elements they have built their international brand on.

"We have learnt a few lessons and the biggest one is to be true to our own aesthetic," Middleton said. "We have a strong following, a strong customer base, so we have to have conviction and faith in what we do."

The label turned eight in November and is now stocked in more than 300 stores in 40 countries, with its own flagship boutiques in Sydney and Brisbane.

Commercially this year is also looking strong, with Clarke and Middleton hiring a new US agent in hope of winning international buyers over the next few days. There are also plans to open a Melbourne flagship store.

The denim designer Sonia Killmore, who has worked her way up the Sass & Bide ranks, has replaced the LA-based Mark Wiesmayr.

This week Australia's Jayson Brunsdon and Kit Willow Podgornik will present their autumn/winter collections. Josh Goot is a no-show after a hectic 2007 saw him present five shows
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