NEW YORK (AP) — Forget the usual vacant model stare. It was smiles and high fives with Iman as real moms of all shapes and sizes took over New York Fashion Week, working a runway Thursday with strollers and pregnant tummies, looking chic for everything from school drop-off to date night.
They walked in the first-ever "Strut: The Fashionable Mom Show," organized by two of their own at the city's Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center near Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week's tents.
They were tall, short, hourglass and your basic size 8. Clothes came from top designers like Tory Burch and Michael Kors, maternity wear from Hatch and A Pea in the Pod.
"I feel amazing," said mom model Lauren Jimeson, who is 37 weeks pregnant and strutted in a cream cocktail dress with cut-outs on the sleeves. "It's just a great message that you can be fashionable and still be a mom and still look great and feel great."
One of the organizers, Melissa Gerstein, said she and fellow mom blogger Denise Albert hatched the idea after they got a TV gig and had nothing to wear.
"We need stuff that's transformable and affordable, that real moms like us can wear every single day to all of the things that we have to do, whether it's the grocery store, school pickup, back to the meeting, back to school."
Looks included a pair of white skinny jeans matched with a purple, tie-dye T-shirt, or loose black slacks with a billowy mustard top. One of two moms who pushed empty strollers down the runway decorated with autumn leaves wore a khaki skirt above the knee with a sleeveless white tunic and an added pop of red in a belt.
Iman — yes, she's a mom of two — didn't walk but looked resplendent in the front row in a purple lace top and short, pleated skirt by Prabal Gurung.
"I'm with my people! People think fashion and moms are at odds, which I don't think they are," the supermodel and mogul said backstage. "It's just our lifestyle is different, yet we hold the purse strings at home and make all the decisions on purchases."
For so many moms, those purchases are focused on their kids, not themselves, when it comes to clothes. And they live in the moment, which is why the show's creators made sure all of the looks on the runway are available right now in stores ranging from Bloomingdale's to T.J. Maxx, rather than six months from now in exclusive boutiques when high fashion's next season rolls around.
There were blazers and jackets from Chris Benz to the Gap, bags Iman sells on HSN.com and dresses by Kors and Rachel Roy.
Gerstein, in a charcoal skirt and tie blouse, and Albert, in a sparkly silver party top with black leggings, run Themoms.com and appear regularly on TV. They chose fellow mommy bloggers to walk the runway. Albert walked with her young son and the 8-year-old of another mom model served as DJ.
When it comes to the fabulous fashion industry, Gerstein said moms are usually invisible.
"I think moms are written off by the fashion world because of what's presented on the runway — a size zero, 6-foot-2 tall woman, and that is not the norm. We care about fashion, too."
Mom model Kimberly Goodwin, nearly eight months pregnant, agreed.
"Just because you're a mom, you don't lose your sense of style," she said. "You don't lose your love of fashion. I'm big right now. I want to feel good."
She walked in a pair of skinnies. "Who would have thought even five, 10 years ago that red skinny jeans would be something a mom eight months pregnant would be wearing down a runway," Goodwin said.
Iman, who has her own cosmetics and accessories company, was recruited for the event by an old friend and fellow mom, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, the fashion director at Lincoln Center and an IMG consultant.
Balancing work life and home life while still looking and feeling good "isn't always easy," Winston Wolkoff said. "It was important to make this different than what Fashion Week is usually about."
So what does Iman wear to the bank, the playground, a night out with hubby David Bowie?
"I may start with a suit in the morning, then a legging," she said. "The important thing is we need a wardrobe that can change from playground to office to a night out. We still care about fashion."
Follow AP coverage of New York Fashion Week at http://twitter.com/ap_fashion or Leanne Italie at http://www.twitter.com/litalie
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.