Conception Arts Founder, Rachel Wilkins, discovers the magic of fashion mixed with art in a daring new designer and with icons of industry.

New York Fashion Week (NYFW) is the ‘see or be seen’ event where super-star designers dare to dazzle Manhattan with their boldest new creations.  Art and fashion have been intertwined for centuries. The partnership makes sense and can be captivating when well executed. I set out to see that partnership in action and NYFW did not disappoint!

My first stop was the Manaola Runway Show.  A lavish penthouse in Midtown was the setting for the young, Hawaiian designer’s debut. From beginning to end the presentation was a sensory delight, though now I fear all other runway shows will pale in comparison.  The event kicked off with a dressing ceremony known as Kakua Pa’u, it was ethereal and visually captivating. Manaola seemed to weave tradition and high fashion together effortlessly for his Manhattan debut.  I was able to get a few minutes with the young designer when the show wrapped and he shared a little insight into his journey. “It took a lot to get here, thankfully we received a lot of support, both from investors and the Hawaiian government.”  Manaola was a humble gentleman with a clear passion for honoring his heritage and native roots.

Manaola’s collection featured black flowing garments with gold accents. Everything from dresses to luggage, outfitted with tribal patterns. The final piece on the runway was a show-stopping black and gold floor-length dress, with a sweeping trail, and a sculptural headpiece appearing to cage-in the model’s face.  This design paid homage to the last queen of Hawaii, “Liliuokalani,” who was imprisoned in her own castle.  The design and symbolism were utterly breathtaking. I was an instant fan. I look forward to seeing what’s next for the young designer.

Next up, I headed downtown to Clarkson St. to the Etihad Airline VIP lounge. The Space, host to celebrities and designers during NYFW, was outfitted with sultry fabrics and elegant lighting. The centerpiece of the space was a triptych painting entitled “Summer Breeze,” by Uruguayan artist, Vicky Barranguet.  Barranguet was selected for space by curator and Gallerist, Melissa McCaig-Welles; a visionary and long-standing trailblazer of the NY art scene. I spoke with McCraig-Wells and asked her what, as a curator, she hoped to communicate to the viewer. “I wanted to present something that would correlate with fashion– playfulness, imagination, ideas, color, and vibrancy.  I immediately thought of Vicky’s work as being a perfect reflection of these ideas and feelings.

Barranguet’s work was indeed the perfect complement to this elegant space. “Her palette is vibrant and her strokes so gestural, full of emotion and energy.  I think of this creativeness when I see a fashion show, the intensity, and display of one’s imagination brought to life. Vicky’s work has that same stunning effect.” McCaig-Welles explained.

The Uruguayan artist’s stunning works are in private collections around the world and this clearly was not her first collaboration. I asked Barranguet if she was inspired by any other art forms; “I am always finding inspiration in other art sources. Fashion has been a fun canvas for me, I have created several collaborations with fashion designers through my art.”

In addition to the Manaola and the Etihad Airline VIP lounge I was able to get to a few other openings, however, fashion fatigue and sore feet, (from wearing my non-sensible shoes) soon kicked in. My final stop was an after-party hosted by designer, Patricia Field.

I’m a big admirer of Field’s work, though I’m most definitely not cool enough to pull off most of her outfits.  Field is best known as the designer responsible for the wardrobe in the Sex and the City movies.  She has a decorated career that has often bridged the art and fashion worlds.  A recent exhibit in Miami, during Art Basel, was entitled just that: ‘Art and Fashion.’ I had the pleasure of meeting Field and loved her authenticity, vibrancy, and her enthusiastic support of young designers and artists.  She is an original rebel, a feminist force, and a woman to be reckoned with in the world of fashion.

Field’s after-party was held at Troy; a new hip basement club in the heart of the trendy meatpacking district. Revelers and fashion aficionados were letting loose on the dance floor to upbeat tunes spun by DJ Ian Mellencamp. The outfits were showstoppers. From punk to fabulous! Platform heels and big, beautiful hair! My favorite reveler sporting a graffiti-esqe baseball hat with the words “Pussy not War” was front and center. Patricia Field, as always, did not disappoint. Still relevant, still cooler than cool, still evoking that shock factor.

Until next time, fashionistas! I look forward to seeing what exciting next!