Arts Post
Posted at 11:42 AM ET, 09/13/2011

Chris Benz, Zero + Maria Cornejo debut Spring 2012 collections

A dress from the Chris Benz 2011 spring collection. (Holly Thomas)
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.

Chris Benz Spring 2012 collection (Holly Thomas)

Chris Benz braves the crowd during his show. (Holly Thomas)
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.

A dress from the Zero + Maria Cornejo Spring 2012 collection. (Holly Thomas)
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.


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