NEW YORK (AP) — Previews of spring styles officially started Thursday at New York Fashion Week, but stylists, editors, retailers, models and celebrities had plenty of early events, including the Style Awards.

Kate Upton was honored as the model of the year, and Zac Posen was named top designer.

Wednesday was also Elie Tahari Day, declared by Mayor Michael Bloomberg in honor of the designer's 40th anniversary of his business in New York City, and Michael Kors was celebrated by The Couture Council of The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

Tahari and Kors are among the designers showing clothes that will shape the shopping lists of consumers in six months' time.

Tahari hinted that the clothes he'll debut will cater to the customer's strong belief in personal style. "When I started, you saw a girl with a long skirt below the knee, and then all the skirts had to be that way. Then everyone had to have a short skirt. But there's less of that going on now, and people respond to certain looks, and how it's good for their bodies."

Several designers have said they'll take a more relaxed approach for spring. Tommy Hilfiger, for example, will revisit "the ease and attitude of the West Coast lifestyle and iconic California beaches."

Max and Lubov Azria were the first heavy hitters on the schedule with their BCBG line.

"We want to see a woman more cool, more relaxed, and that's sexy," said Max Azria backstage before the show.

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Follow Samantha Critchell at http://www.twitter.com/ap_fashion and http://www.twitter.com/sam_critchell

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