New York Fashion Week

NYFW: New York Fashion Week Kicks Off at Lincoln Center Project Runway, Richard Chai and Christian Siriano

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Pictured: The Project Runway Judges: Nina Garcia, Jessica Simpson, Michael Kors and of course Heidi Klum. (photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz)

The Spring 2011 collections premiered today at Lincoln Center at New York Fashion Week. Avoir Bryant Park, Bonjour Lincoln Center.  Lincoln Center has long been the home of fine art in New York (the Opera),  so it’s only fitting that the fine art of fashion has found a permanent home there. The whole festival of fashion seems to have been seamlessly transported to its new, and large home.   The tents are still in use, with multiple shows running at Lincoln Center proper and other venues around New York.  Today’s highlights included the season finale show for Project Runway, the Richard Chai show and new star Christian Siriano.

The Project Runway show was to say the least an eclectic mix of styles and color.  I can’t wait to hear Michael Kor’s commentary on it when the show airs.  I just picture him shaking his orange, close cropped head of hair and letting fly with some, b*tchy comments.

Pictured: A model walks the runway wearing a April Johnston design at the Project Runway Spring 2011 fashion show during the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Spring 2011  (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz)

It’s hard to wait for the show to air to find out who the winner is.  Hedi noted that in her introduction to the runway show that, “I have never gotten so emotional or attached to the designers.”  Interesting, since she  has still been saying  “You’re Out” and  “Auf Wiedersehen” all season.  Note that aspiring fashion designer Jessica Simpson is the “guest judge” for the finale.  Stay tuned.

Outside the reality TV sector, the uber-stylish Richard Chai showed his sleek, and comfortable looking Spring 2011 collection.  I am a big fan of Mr. Chai.  I still love my Target dress with the purple flowers from his Go collection. And of course, I always scour the Barney’s Warehouse sale for his designs.  Today he showed a collection of flowing pants, muted colors (grey, pearl, nude), layered Tees and open shirts worn as jackets over sheer tops.  I liked his simple, elegant look, but I must admit I missed his bold blues and deep purples from previous collections.   It’s unusual to see a Spring Collection without strong color.  After all, Spring is when everything is supposedly in bloom right?

Pictured: A model walks the runway at Richard Chai Spring 2011 fashion show at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Spring 2011 (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz)

The spring colors missing at the Richard Chai show, turned up in full force at former Project Runway alumni Christian Siriano’s show. His distinctive gowns with lots of ruffles were strutting in full force.  The show concluded with the final walk of an array of lavish dresses and an over the top red dress, that caused Women’s Wear Daily to Tweet, “Scarlett is that you?”    Where was Christina Hendricks today? These were literally made for her.  What I liked about Christian’s show is that he took a variety of prints, and showed them in different styles, a short dress, as well as an evening gown.  I also really liked his more casual looks, this this high collar ruffled tops and slim, low-waisted pants.  

Pictured: A model walks the runway at the Christian Siriano Spring 2011 fashion show (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz)

When asked about the inspiration for his collection, here is what the designer had to say. “My collection this season is elegant and opulent, and the clothing has African, Indian, and Asian influences. My muse for Spring/Summer 2011 is a sophisticated yet vibrant woman. We are showcasing a breadth of silhouettes: flowing, wide-legged trousers, safari shorts and jackets, kimono sleeves, structured cocktail dresses, and light, fluttering evening gowns.”  notes Christian Siriano.   ” Our prints were inspired by digital photographs of both Chinese temples and Indian beading. The patterns captivate the eye and compliment the deep red, khaki, and saturated paprika tones of the clothes. The collection is about feeling glamorous in what you wear, whether it’s simple or lavish, and mixing both of those styles together.”   Obviously, Christian has a very different philosophy for Spring 2011 compared to Richard Chai’s paired down aesthetic.

What’s interesting about Christian as a young designer is how diversified he already is.  Today he showed his high-end fashion collection.  However, he also has low-priced shows at Payless.  Last year, he did the Starbucks key card design.  This is a guy who knows how to make it work, and market to the masses. It’s very savvy of him to offer so many different products with such a range of prices.  Today he partnered with reasonably priced Aveda hair products to do the styling for his models.  The models  hair was styled in 1960s “buns” (see photo above.)  Antoinette Beenders for Aveda  says, “We wanted to create a look that evoked the elements of his collection, so we created a modern, textured bun.  It’s a chic-yet-rough, spontaneous look that pairs perfectly with Christian’s Spring/Summer 2011 collection.”   I have to agree and it reminded me of Brigitte Bardot.

Stay tuned for more coverage of tomorrow’s shows, at least the ones I am invited to, or watch on the Internet.  Remember, you no longer  need an exclusive invite to Fashion Week.  Many of the shows are streaming live from Lincoln Center at this web address:    You can also follow all the happenings on Twitter thanks to American Express at this address:  And remember to follow these Twitter hashtags for all the news: #NYFW  #AmexMBFW #MBNYFW


Since 2008, Mary Hall has been the author of The Recessionista Blog, which is read by thousands of regular readers in over 160 countries. An internationally recognized expert on the art of the living the good life for less, she has been a commentator on local, national, and international radio and TV shows. Her advice has been featured in over 2,000 media outlets, including The New York Times, Reuters, Life & Style magazine, ABC News, NBC News and now The Huffington Post, among many others.