Cynthia Rowley made a splash at this New York Fashion Week. The designer staged a runway show (although she swore them off seasons ago), with her hilarious, fun twist at the indoor pool of a private residence in Chelsea Towers. Models circled the pool in loads of swishy, familiar flirty dresses. Some were printed with artful fruits and florals, others glistened in lamé or flounced about in layers of tulle, ruffles and feathers. A sleeveless ombré white to pink to lilac marabou top with crinkled trousers made for a fresh injection to the lineup; the pastel ombré effect, seen throughout the collection, mimicked what Rowley considers nature’s ombré — sunrises and sunsets.

“It always sunrises and sunsets somewhere in the world, like a new dawn,” Rowley said backstage pre-show. “That’s the kind of optimism that I love. I was thinking about how we get in such a bubble [during] New York Fashion Week. That blizzard outside, we should be showing wool.…I wanted to be very inclusive in that it’s a blizzard here and it’s 100 degrees in Australia. We have a global audience and it’s important to think about all of that, all the time.”

So she had light, flowy dresses over pants with big parkas and accessories from the new shoe, jewelry and eyewear lines she’s debuting thrown on top. Overall, the collection leaned more warm-weather; the show finished with stellar pastel ombré wetsuits in colors derived from the works of Hilma af Klint, one of the first abstract artists, whose work Rowley had recently seen at the Guggenheim. She mixed together the hues to emulate the technique of wet painting. One by one the wetsuit-clad models hopped into the pool, ending the show with pure optimistic fun.

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