Gen Art’s 9th Annual Fashion Show

Last night, Gen Art presented THE 9TH ANNUAL STYLES 2007 FASHION & AWARDS SHOW, their biggest event of the year, at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York. The judges included supermodel Liya Kebede, designer Cynthia Rowley, designer John Bartlett, Bill Blass’ Michael Vollbracht, IMG’s Fern Mallis, Elle’s Style Director Isabel Dupre, designer Reem Acra, and Jeffrey Boutique owner, Jeffrey Kalinsky.

You know summer is coming when you see men wearing white leggings, collarless dress shirts and Capri pants. There were some seriously casual men mixed in with the three piece suited hedge fund trophy dates, yet the women saw the opportunity to engage in a wide variety of colors, lengths, and styles, none of which seemed too tired or boring to be worn to a fashion show such as this. It was a mixed crowd.

My friend Laure wore an updated classic white jacket by Cynthia Rowley (who happened to be seated a few rows in front of us) complementing a vintage black dress. Normally, I wouldn’t think of wearing white over black, but it worked. Laure and I couldn’t help but notice the fabulous Bellinis and cold Peronis being served as the crowd trickled in, posed for photos, and took their places around the runway.

MC Robert Verdi (from E’s Fashion Police”) quickly unleashed his wit and charm on the audience. If the Academy is looking for a new host next year, I hope they give Robert an audition. He began by stating that he wasn’t hosting the awards show as a fashion aficionado, but that he accepted Gen Art’s invitation so that he could flirt with hot guys. He continued by sadly pointing out that he is old, single, and likes naked people. “We all came out tonight to get a date” was his mantra and variations on this topic garnered him the most laughs.

Cynthia Rowley gave Robert his start in the fashion industry. He pointed out that he was half of his current age when they first worked together, so the audience could imagine how old she must be. “She’s going to kill me after the show!” he said, and went on to reveal that he usually shoplifts at judge Trina Turk’s Los Angeles boutique, and that her inventory consists of only sizes 0 and 2 (for the fat girls). According to Robert, judge Jeffrey Kalinsky has the biggest Birkin Bag collection in New York and he’d better watch his stash because now that the secret is out, jet setting socialites will soon be trying to get their well manicured hands on them.

A short film of the Design Vision Award for Accessories finalists was our first introduction to the competition. The winners were the design team Black Sheep and Prodigal Sons from New York. Their rusty yet subtle accessories were the most interesting and inviting, and gave me the impression of finding an old scroll in a great, great grandfather’s trunk and interpreting the contents into different pieces of wearable art. Their collection appeared to be jewelry I would actually be drawn to in a boutique in NoLiTa and take the time to match with pieces in my wardrobe. I could imagine their distressed key piece feeling perfect with a white t-shirt and jeans as well as enhancing the neckline of a cocktail dress. It was no surprise that they were chosen as the winners; however, I was definitely left wanting to see more of the direction they are heading in. The only other accessories I thought might win were the Irish knit sweater bracelets by Yarborough. They were chunky, simple, and very different from the other entries.

The first runway competition was for womens Design Vision Award for Ready-to-Wear. The winner was E.Y. Wada from Astoria, NY who showed a lovely white dress with a loose, short beige jacket.

For the Design Vision Award Menswear competition, the winner was A3. The looks he presented were the most eclectic, but hardly the street wear it was striving to be. The highlights were a sleeveless, light pink faded hoodie with light beige pants on the first model and a jacket with the left sleeve coming out of the back on the second model. I spoke with the designer after the show and he was genuinely surprised at the attention. In his brief acceptance speech he exclaimed, “I Love New York!”

For the Perrier “Bubbling Under” Award for Design, five finalists were chosen from the US and Canada and each designer was asked to interpret the word “Pop” in their collection and then explain what it means to them. The winner was Wanda Marie Sanders who created dresses inspired by pop artists Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. Kelly Miller from Nestle Waters was on hand to present her with the check for $10,000 and a tacky green plastic trophy with a bottle cutout. Other ideas presented included eye popping graphics on a multicolored palette (think African prints), Pop music from the 80s influence on rock and roll fashion, a bubbly pop infusion similar to the carbonation of Perrier, and clothing as a pop up item from 2D to 3D using pulleys and wires to transform the body with human power.

For the category of Design Vision Award for Avant Garde, the most experimental ideas came to light. Black vinyl/latex super shiny leggings on impossibly thin legs, 60s inspired French maids from outer space, a stylish long. black general jacket and layers of gathered winter fabric gracefully assembled to make a black top and grey skirt. Jolibe’s navy jacket and dress with royal blue shadows didn’t seem to match the purple stockings on one of the models. The jacket had interesting pockets that caught my attention; however, the overall feel of these two pieces was that they were not fully realized. Dragana Rikanovic’s long white dress with an exposed back and sheer bubble shapes on the front right chest and shoulder was so unique; I almost didn’t notice the tan lines on the model’s back. Rikanovic’s second experimental concept was sheer and open on the right arm and shoulder, and covered the majority of the body and extended over the left shoulder into a form that balanced out the empty space. Her white designs wowed the judges and she was the winner in this category.

The final category was Design Vision Award for Eveningwear. Designer Julianna Bass chose to go with two strapless short dresses, one white and one black, each with delicate detailing. H. Fredriksson’s long, flowing dresses were sleeveless and similar in shape, but not color. The first dress was white with a swirl of thin black flowers and the second consisted of fall colors in large vertical chunks of silk. Form presented a sleek, short grey silk dress and a double deep V black mini, two very dissimilar designs. Patrick Cupid’s ideas for evening consisted of a tight black stretch satin dress (that didn’t hide much) and a flowing black cocktail dress, both accented with gold belts and shoes. The final flash of sparkle was from designer Julia Clancy. Her golden links and detail shimmered on the runway and was hip yet elegant. And the winner was…. Form!

All in all, this was a light and fun evening.

– Kerri Mullon



Ernest Schmatolla is publisher of Lookonline since 1994. It is the longest running fashion site on the Internet.

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