Glamour, Paris Hilton and Saturday Night Live Stars Rock New York Fashion Week

Things will get better.

That appears to be the mantra at the recently concluded New York Fashion Week, where a number of designers are optimistic about post-COVID life and can’t wait to revive the party spirit when it happens. Dressing up in colorful, sexy styles is the hallmark of many collections unveiled during a series of digital presentations that remain online at CFDA and NYFW websites.

Looking to fall, Badgley Mischka and Bronx and Banco are going full-on glamour, as both fashion houses unveiled glittery collections that herald a return to nightlife.

Harkening back to New York cafe society of the ’90s for inspiration, Mark Badgley and James Mischka dubbed their collection “Return to Wonderful” and set it inside the clubby Keens Steakhouse in New York City. Amid the posh surroundings, models tripped the night, fantastic in metallic silver dresses, sequined trousers, check suits with velvet lapels, oversized satin blouses and strapless gowns with big bows.

“Eventually, there will be a return to normalcy,” Badgley told Vogue.com. “And we’re excited about what’s to come.”

Bronx and Banco creative director Natalie De’Banco recalled memories of Sydney’s hottest nightspot, the Piano Room, to create her fall collection. “I celebrated my 18th birthday there and I still remember how glamorous and beautiful the women were and the room was filled with diamonds and sequin mini dresses,” De’Banco said in a statement. “That was the moment my true love for fashion was born.”

Her glam collection features body-hugging midriff-revealing cocktail dresses, glittery full-length gowns with strategic cut-outs, and velour smoking jackets with diamond-beaded lapels — all ready for the red carpet when there is one again.

Bibhu Mohapatra channeled a glamorous, arty vibe with a fall collection based on the styles of the Harlem Renaissance mixed with a hint of the works of painter Gustav Klimt and Emilie Flöge in late 1900s Vienna. The collection features intricately beaded gowns — one with a plunging neckline certainly has a Roaring ’20s vibe — as well as vegan leather coats, pleated skirts, and a striking padded reddish-pink cape with a matching padded cross-body bag.

“I just wanted to make clothes that I enjoy doing and tell the world that I am cautiously hopeful and optimistic,” Mohapatra tells PaperCity. “From my interaction with clients since September 2020, they are ready to feel good again, and wear clothes are lift us up. Many are starting events that were postponed, but over all most of they are also cautiously hopeful. They want to feel cheerful and ready to bring back joy in their lives.”

Known for sunny creations, Los Angeles-based designer Kevan Hall returned to New York Fashion Week with a colorful collection that exudes optimism. Among the highlights of his tightly-edited collection are a flowing caftan in a songbird-and-floral print fabric, dramatic evening gowns in pink ombre pink and bright yellow, and a blue-and-white floral applique halter with a long navy satin skirt.

A Touch of Paris

Christian Cowan seemed to have had the most fun of any designer at New York Fashion Week. He created a video featuring Paris Hilton and Saturday Night Live comedians Chloe Fineman and Bowen Yang doing “A Fashion Thing” with models Justine Skye, Aqua Parios, Mermaid and Dorinda from The Real Housewives of New York.

Just about every one of Cowan’s designs, including an orange sequined minidress with matching stockings, a black leather coat dress with chunky embellished gold sleeves, and a slinky burgundy and lace pants suit, exude a party spirit. Among the celebs, Hilton stood out in a hot pink dress to match her crystal-studded Motorola Razr flip phone (the circa 2003 staple has recently been reinvented), Fineman  sported a lavender sequined top, zippered skirt and faux fur coat, and Yang lounged around in purple sequined pajamas.

Christian Cowan FW 2021
“Saturday Night Live” comedienne Chloe Fineman models a Christian Cowan lavender sequined cut-out top, black zippered skirt, and faux fur. (Photo courtesy of Christian Cowan)

While eye-popping party wear stood out during fashion week, practicality trumped nostalgia in a number of collections as designers highlighted clothing that closely fits into today’s pandemic lifestyles, where working at home and not going out often remain the norm.

Several models in Tanya Taylor‘s fall collection were surrounded by colorful pillows and vases, which were not for sale but nevertheless emitted a cozy vibe. Taylor said she was inspired by the artwork of Jeremiah Goodman, an illustrator who painted the living rooms of society’s elite including Elsa Schiaparelli and Betsey Bloomingdale, to create a collection updating traditional interior fabrications through hand-painted paisleys, plaids, tapestry florals and artful knitwear. The comfy vibe carried through in Taylor’s signature print dresses, striped shirts, check coats and oversized sweaters.

Veronica Beard fall winter 2021
Veronica Beard satin quilted bomber jacket with wool sleeves. (Photo courtesy of Veronica Beard)

A champion of polished sportswear, Veronica Beard is in a more relaxed mood for fall with perfect knock-about-the-house-wear like jumpsuits in black denim or gray sweatshirt fabric, beige overalls with a Fair Isle turtleneck,  jogger pants and tailored jacket, and a terrific quilted bomber jacket with wool sleeves. The collection also includes an eye-catching silver embroidered minidress and a floral velvet pantsuit for those special celebratory moments.

No-fuss sportswear is an Adam Lippes specialty, so for fall, comfort and color are the key for the designer with a loyal Houston following. Lippes’ new collection includes roomy wide-legged pants in bright colors of red, yellow, electric blue, and a poppy floral pattern worn with blouses with a big bow or a hand-quilted cropped leather jacket, and forgiving striped rib knit dresses and skirts that fit all types of bodies.

Lippes also joined in a fashion week trend of offering several stunning coats, including a floor-sweeping white coat and a classic khaki trench. On the more practical side, it seems that everybody needs a warm coat, particularly given the wild swings in weather caused by climate change.

Outwear and Power Suits

Gabriella Hearst‘s minimalistic collection also includes an abundance of show-stopping outerwear. Hearst, who received raves for designing the white embroidered coat and dress that first lady Dr. Jill Biden wore on the night of the presidential inauguration, led off the collection with a near-perfect ankle-grazing cream bouclé cape and featured several long double-breasted  cotton trenches with tie bows at the shoulders, a braided floor-length braided leather coat, a belted wool-and-lace coatdress, and quilted patchwork wool ponchos.

The Proenza Schouler collection highlighted the minimal look in unembellished coats with fur collars and shiny leather trenches, along with knit dresses — another fashion week trend for fall —and what Women’s Wear Daily calls “the new power suit.” The black pantsuit  features a single-button blazer cut away over slit waistband trousers with an adjustable belt and is worn with no shirt.

The power suit received nearly as much attention for who wore it — surprise model Emma Emhoff, the stepdaughter of Vice President Kamala Harris and daughter of second gentleman Doug Emhoff. Emma received a modeling contact from IMG Models after she received kudos  for her quirky style at the presidential inauguration.

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