NEW YORK — Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week is in a state of transition.
While it remains the most influential showcase for American fashion in the world, the design extravaganza, which kicks off Thursday, has a bittersweet feeling this go-around for fashion veterans like myself.
The German luxury car manufacturer, a longtime sponsor, is pulling out as title sponsor and it will be the last time at Lincoln Center as organizers search for a new location and a chance to reinvent the event at a hipper, less overtly commercial venue. Already, many designers have fled to downtown locations to showcase their collections.
Amid all the hoopla, it's easy to forget that the gathering of the fashion press, buyers and assorted hangers-on is really all about the clothes and what you are likely to see in stores next fall.
To kick off our "Clifford on the Catwalk" series, some top designers and Texas newcomers offer CultureMap an exclusive sneak preview, with sketches and divine inspiration, for fall. Already, there seems to be one overriding theme — they're in a rebellious mood.
Designer: Nanette Lepore
Inspiration: "For fall 2015, I've been channeling my unapologetic muse — the 'posh rebel' — to create a vision of a radiant nouveau girls club, a sisterhood secret society unified around the rallying cry, 'Rebelle Society.'"
Designer: Carmen Marc Valvo
Inspiration: Lasses, Lads and Plaids.
Designer: J. Mendel
Inspiration: “For fall 2015, I was inspired by the dazzle of New York City after dark and the enduring allure of its glamorous nightlife.” — J. Mendel designer Gilles Mendel
Designer: Angel Sanchez
Inspiration: “Revisiting eveningwear, offering a fresh approach for today’s women."
Designer: Bibhu Mohapatra
Inspiration: "The fall 2015 collection honors the other-worldly muse that has always inspired the worldly man."
Designer: Nicole Miller
Inspiration: "The fall collection is inspired by mythic arts with a forest theme – the mysteries of the woods as seen through the eyes of illustrators."
Designer: Pamella Roland
Inspiration: The fall 2015 Pamella Roland collection is inspired by the world of fashion in 1970s Paris as described in the book, The Beautiful Fall. It was a glamorous world of designers, models, photographers and their creative conspirators that have become enduring style icons.
Designer: Monique Lhuillier
Inspiration: "My fall 2015 collection plays on the juxtaposition of masculine vs. feminine. Strong, structured separates are paired with soft, fluid silhouettes."
Designer: Rolando Santana
Inspiration: "Prepare to be transported to an era of regal womenswear adorned with embellishments and elaborate embroideries upon unique and original prints."
Shown here: Edith Dress, from left, Sabina Gown and Skyler Dress.
Designer: Christian Siriano
Inspiration: "The deep, dark and mysterious creatures from the Congo Jungle in the Central African Republic were my main source of inspiration for my fall 2015 collection. I was drawn to the home of the silverback gorilla along with other exotic and exquisite creatures. These animals echoed through sleek burnout wool textured dresses, bold animal printed jacquard coats and liquid panther-like velvet evening looks. I wanted the collection to feel luxe and sophisticated but still playful through the ease and fluidity of the silhouettes.
"Inspired by plant life and the jungle itself are graphic oversized palm printed taffetas and bright citrus embroideries; petal appliques from the African tulip tree and Heliconia plant are a vivid splash of color that brings a dark collection to life. I wanted this collection to feel elegant, powerful, bold but still romantic for the Christian Siriano woman this season."
Designer: Alexa DiBiasio
Inspiration: DiBiasio, a 2013 graduate of the Art Institute of Houston,believes every woman deserves not only to be beautiful, but also beautiful in a unique and fascinating way.
She describes her collection as "fierce meets feminine," combining flowing textures with the structured lines of leather. She creates a balance between hard and soft, resulting in elegant silhouettes with military touches.
DiBiasio will present her mini collection alongside 11 other Art Institutes students and recent grads at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.
Inspiration: "For fall/winter '15 we were inspired by a character and her various interpretations. Bertha Mason, the insane first wife of Edward Rochester in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, and Antoinette Cosway, Bertha’s original name according to Jean Rhy’s Wide Sargasso Sea.
"For the collection, we explored Antoinette’s Jamaican heritage and her eventual descent into madness. We looked to her Caribbean childhood for color and paint inspiration — graphic primaries (red, yellow, blue and green) grounded in solid black and white — juxtaposed against her eventual move to Victorian England, all cold and buttoned up.
"Like Bertha, we wanted elements of madness throughout — seams pulling apart, unlikely combinations of print and trims, structured silhouettes that then give way." — SUNO designers Max Osterweis and Erin Beatty
Designer: Tadashi Shoji
Inspiration: The Spirit of Flight.
Designer: Lela Rose
Inspiration: “The inspiration for fall 2015 is a mix of a few ideas that have really come together in a new way for the collection. I would best describe it as: Fringe and feathers head West. There is a mix of elements, like fringed tweed and feather weight tweed, that are giving the collection a slightly Western vibe but in a very modern way," says Rose, a Dallas native.
Designer: Rebecca Taylor
Inspiration: Rebecca Taylor’s fall 2015 channels the eclectic French girl Francoise Hardy. She searches Portobello Market and Les Puces de Saint-Ouen for cool Victorian pieces and soft, femme chiffon dresses to style with “worn-in” military jackets.
Richly textured fabrics include garment dyed floral brocade dresses, lofty fringed outerwear, languid wide leg pants and lurex knife-pleated skirts.
Modern embellished herringbone details give jackets a military vibe while artisanal accents such as lace appliques and delicate embroidery form a perfect harmony between romantic and utilitarian.
Designer: Grace Ahn
Inspiration: A 2014 graduate of the Art Institute of Dallas, Ahn says her design inspiration and discipline comes from her mother and father, both exquisite tailors. The way garments are constructed and altered inspired her from a young age and it’s menswear that she is drawn to.
Ahn asks herself “What would I wear if I were male?” Her response is a men’s collection titled Resolution, meant for a man who is confident and stylish but not showy. She loves working with different textures and a simple color palette of black and white.
She references Pinterest for ideas and seeking out ways that fashion is juxtaposed to nature, architecture and literature.
Ahn will present her mini collection alongside 11 other Art Institutes students and recent grads at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.
Designer: Laurel Berman of Black Halo
Inspiration: "Clean elegant lines inspired by modern architectural shapes."
Designer: Son Jung Wan
Inspiration: “Retro-meets-modern: For fall 2015 I was inspired by the romantic MGM films of the 1950s and the fashion photography of Gordon Parks.”
Designer: Dennis Basso
Inspiration: “My collection is inspired by the jet-setting, glamorous women of the 1970s.”
Designer: Yoana Baraschi
Inspiration: Female superheroes.
Inspiration: "My German heritage was the main focus of fall 2015. I was intrigued by the resurgence of traditional costumes commonly known as trachten. Lederhosen and dirndl are transformed into modernized styles. All together, an interesting blend of modern textures was created while integrating sentimental notions of my family origin. — Tina Lutz, TSE creative director