Journalist Colin McDowell was inspired by American Idol when he launched Fashion Fringe six years ago. As with Idol, Fringe has had a few champs—like Erdem and Basso & Brooke—who have come out on top, and others who have…well, does the name Taylor Hicks ring a bell? The 2009 Fringe finalists paraded their collections in front of this year's honorary chair, Donatella Versace, before Jenny Holmes and Dimitris Theocharidis, who design as Jena Theo, were announced as the winners. They showed lots of tiering, swagging, and classical Greek draping in tops and dresses that occasionally scooped as uncomfortably low in the front as they did in the back (hence the need for a black leather pasty in one outfit).
Serbian duo Lidija & Dejan also used pleating and draping for a classical effect. One dress had a gathered front that fell away from a breastplatelike bra. Another was draped in silver slave chains. Yelena Smirnova's aesthetic was more softly sculptural, her organzas and chiffons formed into organic shapes inspired by Henry Moore. Her deep red and cobalt blue were effective counterpoints to a pastel palette. Elliot Atkinson made tiny little dresses out of collaged colors, cutouts, and sheer panels. His blurry floral prints echoed previous winner Erdem. Collate the commonalities between the finalists and you'd be drawn to these conclusions: Pink is the world's favorite color; daywear is dead; and Versace is the most influential fashion house. We'll credit that last one to the presence of the honorary chair.