Salman Rushdie gave Alice + Olivia designer Stacey Bendet a miniature version of his novel, “The Enchantress of Florence,” and so enchanted was she with the book that she let its narrative inform her fall collection. “One of the themes running through the book is that a lost princess is creating her own destiny in a man’s world,” Bendet said. (Girl power isn’t a passing trend for the designer, who has three of her own daughters; aims to dress strong, empowered women, and employs hundreds of them in her business.)
Rushdie’s historical novel takes place between Florence and the Mughal Empire of India, and Bendet winked at both cultures in her presentation-style vignettes, decked out with Persian-style rugs and lush velvet curtains. The glam-factor was on deck with an elaborate, high-neck, floral-patterned green gown; a pink ostrich feather miniskirt, and silver sequined suiting, styled over a graphic T that read “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
There’s talk of Sandro Botticelli’s masterpiece “Primavera” in Rushdie’s book, and Bendet printed the painting onto a pair of dramatic silk skirts, worn with romantic lace blouses. Camouflage army jackets and tattered denim nodded to the novel’s military themes while tempering the flou. Even if Bendet’s customers haven’t read Rushdie’s book, come fall, they’ll find plenty of familiar pieces to love.