NEW YORK — A Siberian Lolita, a glam Sophia Loren riding through the Grand Canyon and a battalion of mod Marys. These are just some of the inspirations Henri Bendel’s new pack of young designers drew from for their current installations in the Fifth Avenue store.
This story first appeared in the April 22, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The retailer’s New Creators series this season features designers of varying degrees of experience: Valeria Siniouchkina, Emma Cook, Hamish Morrow, Esteban Cortazar and Alice Roi. The collections are displayed on the store’s third floor.
“We felt particularly strongly about including two designers from London because so many people didn’t really get to see those collections this season,” said Ed Burstell, vice president and general manager at Henri Bendel.
The designers, in the meantime, arrived in force last Wednesday morning to explain their installations, despite the late-night party held at the store the previous evening in their honor, and for the launch of Maer Roshan’s Radar magazine.
Siniouchkina, the winner of the Prix de Henri Bendel at the Hyeres Fashion Festival in April 2002, channeled a biker chick from Omsk and showed leather pants with red flames up the inseam, short pleated skirts and cocktail dresses with frayed bits which she likened to “ripped emotions.”
Cook, one of the London designers, looked to Sixties punk and incorporated plastic and synthetics in her designs, which were also inspired by Surrealism and Man Ray photographs. The pieces included acidic pastels mixed with black and white, “in keeping with the Sixties theme,” said Cook.
Fellow countryman Morrow opted for a more radical approach by encasing his designs in a steel booth. “The point is to draw the eye to a specific detail of the clothes,” said Morrow. Giving shoppers a more interesting visual, in his opinion, than just hanging limply on the wall or displaying his show on a plasma screen.
Cortazar chose Sophia Loren as his muse. “This is a collection about freedom,” he said. “It’s inspired by a woman that has a strength about her, but in a very sexy, feminine way.”
He chose pictures of the Grand Canyon, the autumnal hues of which matched the burnt oranges and sullied greens of his collection.
New York veteran Alice Roi is in the midst of showcasing her very own “coming of age.” The designer, who has five seasons under her belt at Bendel’s, has opted to focus more on quality and craftsmanship in her designs. “I went to all these top mills and used all of these really great fabrics, and that opened up so much for me,” said Roi. “It’s hard for young designers because they have so many obstacles that sometimes the quality gets lost at that stage. So, now I’m focused more on the quality of goods and, of course, working to keep it up.”