It might go without saying that a collection done almost entirely in head-to-toe neon is a departure for most contemporary sportswear designers. But in the case of Nanette Lepore, it isn’t just a departure — it’s a full-on sprint away from her trademark romantic silhouettes and feminine florals.
And in most instances, it felt fresh (even after dozens of shows touted neon as The Next Big Thing), youthful and fun. Lepore, who’s never afraid to experiment with trends, incorporated spring’s sporty vibe through scuba fabrics and strategically-placed zippers. The most wearable looks featured highlighter-bright hues in more subtle ways, such as a tangerine seersucker-like skirt suit and the lilac and aqua sleeveless lace dresses that softly — but not completely — concealed traffic-cone-orange slips underneath. Another high point was the shoes, which ranged from tangerine flat sandals to towering blue crocodile platforms, all with neon yellow soles that created a fleeting glow on the white runway as the models strutted along to the live band.
At Milly, designer Michelle Smith’s muse is a more understated girl, one who — according to the program notes — is “witty and erudite” and “more interested in her books than boys.” Embracing a ’50s-flavored nerd-chic aesthetic, Smith turned out prim belted dresses, boxy skirt suits, cropped jackets and easy, flowing trousers in a palette of red, green, cobalt, camel and cream. Her inspiration was the abstract painter Sonia Delaunay, whose colorful, geometric work was on exhibit recently at the Cooper-Hewitt design museum in New York. It played out in bold rectangular prints and optic dot patterns, which felt fit for a modern girl with a love of vintage goods. The accessories were top-notch, and included Smith’s new handbag collection — think totes, satchels and clutches in both neon and primary hues — and her footwear collaboration with Sperry Top-Sider. The perfect finishing touch: Sleek cat-eye glasses and slick side ponytails that were feminine but not fussy.