It was hardly a typical New York fashion show at the Pierre Hotel Monday night. In the audience were young men and women in colorful brocades and panne velvets, and on the runway some of the more imaginative clothes seen all week.
The event was the presentation of the five finalists in the More Fashion Awards, with designers Mary McFadden, Willi Smith, Carolina Herrera, Michaele Vollbracht and Giorgio Sant'Angelo as judges, and actress Catherine Deneuve as mistress of ceremonies.
More than 400 new designers, all of whom have been in business more than one year but less than five, competed for the award, a vermeil sculpture on an ebony base designed by Paloma Picasso. "The finalists were twice as good as last year -- maybe because there were twice as many," said Vollbracht before the show.
Among the best: Douglas Ferguson, who makes hand-enameled metal mesh dresses; Nicola and Rodolfo Contreras, artists who have translated their handpainted jewelry into splendid knitwear with amusing animals and other figures; and Vinh Pham, who was born in Vietnam and integrates traditional designs of that country into modern clothing.
And the winner? Pham, 23, "because his collection was very well-rounded, very well thought-out," said Herrera. The designer's mother, Dan T. Hoang, lives in Arlington.