Farewell, New York Fashion Week. Hello, New Faces

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Apparently, “basic” is the new black. The Spring/Summer 2011 Mercedes-Benz New York Fashion Week, which ended yesterday, demonstrated that designers are still courting recession-wary customers by offering signature pieces that translate beyond a single season.

Among fashion’s old guard brands, Ralph Lauren returned to his Western roots, Francisco Costa for Calvin Klein presented sleek, simply-cut dresses, and Oscar de la Renta stuck to his fail-safe Upper East Side cocktail dresses—to a fault, some believed.

But amidst this return to familiar territory, several up-and-coming designers made their presence known in the tents. Over the last few years, Asian-American designers have been gaining in sartorial influence, with Michelle Obama favorite Jason Wu, Parsons grad Alexander Wang and Richard Chai, who together swept the 2010 CFDA Awards. This year, the up-and-comer to watch was Prabal Gurung, a CFDA-nominee who hails from Singapore, by way of Kathmandu. Click through to check out his collection, and more fresh faces on the catwalk this past week.[more]

Gurung, also a Parsons alum, exhibited a masterful collection for a brand that, at only a year and a half old, is still in its infancy. In an exciting departure from the ordinary, the former Cynthia Rowley staffer presented a series of bright color-blocked clothing, which highlighted Gurung’s exquisite attention to detail. Rave reviews resounded from both sides of the aisle. With five years experience at Bill Blass and the invaluable support of Anna Wintour (present at his A/W ’10 show this week), Gurung will be a designer to keep an eye on in the future.

Another fresh face was that of Joseph Altuzarra. Having cut his teeth at Marc Jacobs, Proenza Schouler and Givenchy, Altuzarra is no stranger to the fashion world. His own line however, is just in its third season.  Known for his body-conscious shapes, ruched seams, darts and draping, Altuzarra has rapidly been making a name for himself, most notably making a loyal fan of Carine Roitfeld, the influential editor of Vogue‘s French edition.

A third newcomer to Fashion Week was a plus-size fashion show hosted by OneStopPlus.com, attended by curvy actresses Nikki Blonsky, Gabourey Sidibe and KayCee Stroh and model Emme. While plus-size models have seemingly been all the rage this season, featured in several high fashion magazine spreads and print campaigns, the models on the runways remain stubbornly skeletal. (I was there. I can attest.) The show, featuring only sizes 12-44, truly advanced the cause of fashionable plus-size women, who argue that a show of this caliber should have been conceived of years ago. At least this marks one stiletto-step in the right direction!

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