Mad for Middleton

February 18, 2011— -- Fall 2011 is shaping up to be a Middleton moment. New York runways at Fashion Week this month were full of frocks echoing the ladylike look of the princess-to-be.

Robert Burke, former senior vice president of fashion at Bergdorf Goodman, characterized the flashes of "Kate-spiration" to the Wall Street Journal as "a little bit of royal envy going on here."

The sapphire blue of the dress seen 'round the world when Kate and William announced their engagement turned up in collections from Rachel Roy to Peter Som. Roy, who calls Kate's style one of "effortless ease," sent a royal-blue silk dress down the runway that grazed the knee. Tailored sapphire slacks and a flowing sequined maxi-dress were two of the final looks from Som.

Low-key fall prints and pleated skirts both sensible and sexy also had a turn in the spotlight. Neiman Marcus fashion director Ken Downing pointed to those looks as "a real nod to England, Kate Middleton is definitely in the air."

He called it "this idea of 'Town and Country' dressing where there's a lot of tweeds, we're seeing a lot of plaids."

An earlier addition to the royal family was the muse for Vera Wang. The designer said Duchess of Windsor Wallis Simpson and other "iconic U.S. women who fascinated the English aristocracy of the 1930s" inspired the clothes sported by her models strutting out of Buckingham Palace-like gates.

New York Fashion Week is all wrapped up. All eyes on London now where fashionistas are waiting to see what Issa, the designer of that famous sapphire blue dress, sends down the catwalk Saturday afternoon. Pre-sales for Issa's fall 2011 collection are already up 45 percent.