Jen Kao was on another planet when she designed her fall 2011 collection. The runway was lined with glowing lava to signify, according to her line sheet, "a new beginning," and models looked a bit like beautiful aliens--fierce queens (not the Ru Paul Drag Race variety) from a far away galaxy: they wore iridescent armor (structured jackets and breast plates), tight printed jersey dresses in colors that looked like the rainbows you see in an oil slick over shimmering silver leggings, with gold netting and layers of fringe scattered throughout. It was like nothing I'd ever seen before, aside from prints Kao called "aerial planetary views" which looked very inspired by Christopher Kane's galaxy collection.
I can't begin to get inside Kao's head for this out-of-this-world collection. Luckily, she broke it down in her line sheet and it's too good not to quote in full: "Historically omniscient ladies retreat to a secluded sinkhole at the end of each significant chapter in their lives. Here, they abandon armfuls of the most luxurious jewels from their notorious, sometimes nefarious, conquests in human relationships. Everybody hurts, but here...not for long. Airs and remnants of these Hatshepsuts, Elizabeths, and Catherine seek all the modern women they see as plagued by emotions and overly afflicted by weak hearts, commanding an ordinance for change. Their haunting winds pull the new followers into the psychedelic pool of former fascinating exploits. In this occasion for new life, a beaming arm reemerges dripping in gaggles of royal, glittery pasts, killing the nostalgic undertones and self-emblazoning themselves with fresh spines and claws of gold. A collection inspired by the strongest animals we are capable of being."
**All photos: IMAXTREE