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:
Kenneth Cole is many things: activist, designer, marketing whiz. But one would never call him conservative. Or backward thinking. That’s why it’s no surprise that he’s jumped on blogger bandwagon, inviting a slew of us to view his Spring 2011 collection at the company’s showroom. (Which happens to be the former Astor stables–a gorgeous building.) The invite to the event was a Bloggie video camera, complete with a clip of Cole inviting us to “join his social network.” Pretty clever–and of course hilarious.
Sure there was sand on the runway and there were floaty dresses and soleless sandals at Jen Kao’s show at Milk yesterday, but there was a dark undercurrent running through her collection. Chris Isaac’s “Wicked Games” played for the entire length of the show, and Kao’s line sheets said that she was “inspired by the arid sands and shifting light of the powdery dunes where desert princes find their zombie brides.” Ok…? The zombie bride thing didn’t exactly come across but Kao’s color palette–sand, off-white, dusty rose–certainly gave off a desert vibe. Models strolled through the sand in over-sized slouchy knits and loose airy dresses, most of which were crocheted and macramed, and paired with soleless macrame thongs and shin guards. The stand out look? A dusty rose gown with intricate paneling at the bodice.