It’s a bold move (or a bout of hyperbole) to call an event a Fashion Spectacular. But to describe how very spectacularly Target showed us all up (an overcrowded group that included Mary-Louise Parker, Nina Garcia, Penn Badgley, and Prabal Gurung, hemmed in by protesters from the retailer’s current gay rights controversy), let’s cut to the basics. First—perhaps in a Midwest kind of mind-set—the Minneapolis-based chain went big: renting 155 of the famously clear-windowed rooms on the southern facade of the Standard Hotel in New York big. A dazzling light show masterminded by Bionic League smartly made use of said giant windows; rooms were filled with 66 dancers performing choreographed dance and light sequences, which included everything from replicating falling raindrops to a Chicago-inspired routine that prompted one former skeptic to cheer, “That was insane!” There was a runway on ground-level, too, where models showed off fall merchandise, but with the lights and dancers, who was looking?
Flying in for the night, Target’s senior vice president of merchandising, Trish Adams, did make New Yorkers feel a bit better about being out-razzle-dazzled. “When we come here, it’s usually to see what’s going on,” she explained. “Most of the trends come from the city.” To that effect, Garcia, who recently signed on as Target’s style expert, will be on the hunt for the latest and greatest. “It’s perfect because I’m basically doing what I already do, which is to see what’s out there—definitely can’t complain!” the Project Runway judge and Marie Claire fashion director enthused. With fashion week looming, Garcia et al. will soon have plenty of new trend reports for the dissecting. But even its specter couldn’t keep a few devoted designers away. “I’m at the office until at least 8 p.m. every day,” Gurung said of his hectic pre-NYFW schedule. “I like to call it controlled stress,” the designer added, on taking time to check out the light show. “I’m also working out four days a week at 7 a.m., and I just started doing yoga, too.” Now that’s a flexible business plan.
There was small talk in at least three languages at the mid-morning cocktail hour preceding Fashion Group International’s Rising Star Awards luncheon today, but Bellini, apparently, translates—good thing, since the fashion talent being honored hails from locales as far as Iran (Nima Taherzadeh), Australia (Michael Angel), and Nepal (Prabal Gurung). Fellow nominees Carly Cushnie and Michelle Ochs registered on the low end of the nerves spectrum before the ceremony—mostly, it seemed, due to social shell shock. “We’ve been working all week on the collection, and coming to an event like this in the middle of the day is surreal,” Cushnie said. “It’s a treat just to get out of the studio.”
Following lunch, keynote speaker Nina Garcia nursed a sore throat but reminisced about getting her start as an intern at Perry Ellis for a certain designer who showed a certain grunge collection. “Be your boldest, most out-of-the-box self,” she advised the gathered designers, counsel her one-time boss would undoubtedly second. Linda Fargo and Francisco Costa shared the podium to announce the winner of the womenswear award—luckily, as it turned out, since Costa almost missed the second name on the card. Joseph Altuzurra and Peter Hidalgo took home joint honors, a recognition that left Hidalgo visibly stunned. “It’s a very strange sensation,” he admitted. “I am somehow more nervous now.” For his part, Altuzarra was thinking about the clothes. “We’re moving away from the seventies,” he said of his next collection. “But it’s the same woman—very strong.” Hey, if it ain’t broke…