A model walks during Christian Siriano Spring/Summer 2020 runway show of New York Fashion Week at the Gotham Hall on September 7, 2019 in New York City. (AFP/Kena Betancur)
Christian Siriano and Christopher John Rogers took New York by storm Saturday, kicking off the first official day of Fashion Week in shows teeming with life and glamor, a much-needed infusion of energy that recent seasons have lacked.
Red-carpet favorite Siriano has been propelled to the forefront of the American ready-to-wear scene and is one of the few designers to use plus-size models in his shows.
On Saturday, the evening-gown specialist offered a more creative collection than ever before to his fans -- including actresses Lucy Liu and Sarah Michelle Gellar, and singer Meghan Trainor, who were all in attendance.
Siriano explained to AFP that he was inspired by modern pop artists, in particular Ashley Longshore, known for her vibrant, colorful paintings, some of which were on display Saturday.
During the show, the New Orleans artist put the finishing touches to large portraits of Lady Gaga, Frida Kahlo and Laverne Cox.
Siriano said he wanted to celebrate "powerful women" through "the use of playful color, texture, humor, but also refinement. I wanted that to be throughout the whole collection."
"We wanted it to feel pretty luxe, glamorous, kind of feminine and romantic," he said.
"I hope there's more, but I think we're doing a good job."
Energetic young designer Christopher John Rogers won a standing ovation for his collection, which brought him to tears.
From Baton Rouge, Louisiana, "CJR" is part of an emerging generation of African-American designers, whose ranks include Virgil Abloh and Kerby Jean-Raymond, behind the label Pyer Moss.
This season the 25-year-old was inspired by the clowns of Italian cinema, Gauguin's paintings and 1920s silhouettes, among other things.
The first appears in his ultra-puffy dresses and ruffles, the second in the use of pleated cotton capturing a Caribbean style, and the third in pencil skirts and cocktail dresses.
"It's about addressing all those things at the same time and not feel that we have to be one thing," Rogers said.
"We're kind of all of these things."
The cosmopolitan designer has also mixed materials -- from lycra to canvas used for cloth bags, through wool or linen.
"We're self-funded," said Rogers of his choice of materials compared to those used in high-end pret-a-porter.
"Whatever we can find, we try and make it the most amazing version of that thing."
Energy was also on display at Longchamp, which presented at the Lincoln Center.
For its Spring/Summer 2020 collection, the French fashion house associated with the world of travel instilled a touch of the futurism of the 70s and 80s, shown Friday in a much more pronounced version by Jeremy Scott.
There were short silk dresses, long skirts playing with transparency, and a color palette including turquoise, apricot and plum.
On their feet the models wore Spartan-style sandals that tie to below the knee, and a variety of colorful Star Trek-style boots.
Known for its trendy, timeless style, Khaite House surprised with its bold newness.
With many layers and a mix of materials and prints, the collection tended towards romanticism, inspired by the family home of the grandparents of Catherine Holstein, Khaite's creative director.
There are "flashes from my childhood in terms of curtains and wallpapers. There's a sense of playfulness too with the collaboration with Swarovski that I haven't explored before," Holstein told AFP.
"I'm innately feminine but I'm also practical and I think I need a balance," she said.
"I shift a lot and I really want to bring that to the collection as well. To enhance the femininity and to stay away (from) being sweet and pretty, it really needs the balance and structure."
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