As Beatles’ tunes echoed off sun-splashed walls in Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall, designer Chris Benz presented a spring collection that encompassed 1960s mod touches, ladylike tailoring and subtle Asian influences. Perhaps taking a cue from his own cotton-candy-hued locks, Benz doused the collection in South Beach-inspired pastels, including a lively tangerine, which is shaping up to be one of the shades of the season. The result? A collection that would appeal to a Hitchcock heroine, were she to shrug off societal constraints and that nagging feeling of impending doom, and head for happier, sunnier — and far more adventurous — climes.
Abstract circles, chunky stripes and vivid florals contrasted with elegant jackets, draped coats and slim pants — a signature style for the designer, who is known for fusty-yet-playful overtures. For proof, look no further than a ladies-who-lunch collarless jacket paired with a hodgepodge of necklaces and a sarong-style skirt, finished with a pair of high-top sneakers. What would otherwise have been colorful, eclectic chaos was kept under control by a sense of restraint in the tailoring — jackets were nipped at the waist, blouses buttoned neatly to the neck. Bold lips by Lancome and bouffant bobs with a wild, windblown effect highlighted the ’60s influence while adding to the feeling of barely-constrained calm. We say bring on the camo-wearing, cardigan-loving grandmas that have inspired Benz — they must be tons of fun.
Later in the evening, a frigid venue inside Milk Studios seemed scantly populated as the Zero + Maria Cornejo spring collection was unveiled. Cornejo’s design notes referenced a love for “an urban summer” and a sense of controlled fluidity, and the combination of beauty and rigidity she presented tonight call to mind a Hockney painting — alluring and familiar yet distant and aloof. A billowy linen coat and a fluid clementine-hued dress finished with a slim belt would look right at home in Michelle Obama’s closet, while tailored, draped jackets and softly structural leathers are classic Cornejo. The finishing touch: Pastel-lemon pedicures and covetable, color-blocked sandals.