By Ellen Wulfhorst
NEW YORK (Reuters) - It's all there in black and white.
Stylish clothes being unveiled for spring 2014 are highlighting the pronounced simplicity of black and white. The colors are either elegant monochromes or mixed up in playful zebra prints, classic checks and mod color blocking.
Victoria Beckham's show on Sunday was the latest in a string of collections at New York Fashion Week adhering almost entirely to a black and white palette.
Her looks were sporty, with short pleated skirts, the season's omnipresent cropped tops and flouncy hemlines over knee-length shorts.
Describing her collection, the celebrity designer said she set "boyish elements against a sense of femininity."
Some of Beckham's pieces were all-black or all-white, and she would use unusual structure or overlaid textures to bring them to life.
Mixing the two colors, a short black dress revealed a pleated white skirt, peeking out from under an angled hemline, and a spaghetti-strapped black top was trimmed with white pleats at the midriff. All the black and white was accented with just a brief splash of hot pink and a subdued rust.
At Yigal Azrouel, the collection was entirely black, white, cream and gray. Some were solids, some mixed.
Among the stand-out looks was a set of dresses, jumpsuit, jacket and culottes in white silk with a black tree-branch pattern.
Opening with all-cream looks, the show closed with a series of gray suits and dresses conservatively cut, but in an unlined, and revealing, open-weave fabric.
"Minimalism reigns in a decisive pattern of black, white, and shades of gray," the New York-based designer said in a statement accompanying the show. "Androgynous tailoring and architectural lines are juxtaposed with arched necklines and seductive cut-outs."
Another showcase for sporty minimalism, the Y-3 Adidas collection by Yohji Yamamoto featured a stream of black and white, from t-shirts and dresses to kneesocks, shoes and backpacks.
Various Y-3 hoodies, sweats and trench coats were accented with dabs of rainbow, electric blue and canary yellow.
Porsche Design, too, barely strayed from blacks and whites in its show of sophisticated sportswear. Only a touch of gray and a rich blue briefly altered the Porsche color landscape.
Spain's Delpozo, one of the more highly anticipated shows of the week-long extravaganza, used black and white in a striped, boxy top over a full-bodied black skirt, in a casual checkered top and in florals.
Delpozo also mixed black with sand and with ecru, similar pairings of colorless hues. Accents were a delicate lavender, angelic florals and a bold black-and-yellow sunflower print.
Designer Sofia Sizzi drew from her native Florence, Italy for her Giulietta collection - also heavy on black and white.
Ahead of the show, she said she was influenced by the stark blacks and whites of the city's churches and piazzas.
"It's the idea of a walk through a city," she said. "You have all these elements from the buildings and the shadows of the buildings."
Sizzi accented her classic black and white with blue florals and spiced up the collection with a pair of bright red dresses.
The black and white trend was bolder at Alexandre Herchcovitch, whose use ranged from polite pinstripes to brazen zebra prints.
The Brazilian designer, popular with Lady Gaga, punched up his black and white with purple.
Even designers who use vibrant color as their trademarks trotted out black and white.
Tracy Reese, one of first lady Michelle Obama's favorite designers, cited Afro-Cuban influences in her colorful geometric prints, raffia embroidery and flared dresses in her show on Sunday.
But she accented her collection with a black-and-white zigzag lace maxi slip, an embellished trapeze dress and a laser-cut neoprene jacket over a black gingham shell.
New York Fashion Week ends on Thursday, followed by fashion weeks in London, Paris and Milan.
(Additional reporting by Marguerita Choy, Noreen O'Donnell, Eileen Houlihan and Erin Geiger Smith; Editing by Maureen Bavdek and Nick Zieminski)