The year is 2015, and onetime MTV headliner Lauren Conrad is hosting a runway show at New York Fashion Week to debut a limited edition capsule collection of her Kohl's line. For the occasion, Conrad's camp has cloaked an entire basement showroom in floaty gauze curtains with chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. There are Pinterest-perfect floral arrangements, too.
It's a far cry from the 29-year-old's last catwalk foray in March 2008 at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Los Angeles. At the time, Conrad, then 22, was deep in the throes of "The Hills" by day and enjoying complementary bottle service at Les Deux by night. Seeing as Conrad spent most of the late aughts hanging out with Brody Jenner and Frankie Delgado, it should serve as no surprise that her first collection was not the most critically acclaimed. New York, for starters, referred to the event as "sad" and "bizarre," complete with — and I'm directly quoting here — "a terrible color palette that would give Michael Kors an aneurysm."
While such a blistering critique might have incited other up-and-comers to crawl back into the reality television nest, Conrad's fashion empire has only matured. The seven years that have passed since that first 2008 show have been, to put it mildly, very good for her. She's launched two lines, LC Lauren Conrad for Kohl's and Paper Crown (in 2009 and 2011, respectively) as well as an ethically sourced online marketplace called The Little Market in 2013. She got married, adopted a couple of dogs and Instagrammed some seashells, all while enchanting us with her domestic, arguably basic lifestyle.
I had high expectations that her return to the runway would reflect this second act, and happily, it did. If a passerby in tune with pop culture had accidentally wandered into the show space, he or she would've immediately known Conrad was involved. No one's personal brand is more recognizable.
Below, I've reviewed Conrad's show in full, though added a slight twist: I've done so exclusively (and necessarily, might I add) in both "Laguna Beach" and "The Hills" GIFs. Enjoy!
I arrive at 7:13 p.m., promptly 13 minutes after the show was supposed to start. Veterans will understand that, by Fashion Week standards, this is certainly timely — early, even. Conrad's show, however, began at 7:15 p.m. I was frantically ushered in and told to stand in a doorway. It was all a bit:
As I retreated to my VIP doorway, the lights dimmed and the Beach Boys's "California Dreamin'" bellowed over the loudspeakers. It had begun.
Out walked a slew of wispy white garments, each girlier and lacier than the last. Much to the delight of Lo Bosworth (who was seated in the front row to support her high school pal), it wasn't like this, though:
The first few models were sporting Pinterest-y milkmaid braids. It pains me to know that I will never be able to master such an elaborate plait as I am neither a professional milkmaid, nor a member of Conrad's posse.
The accessories were pretty much what you'd expect from a woman whose wedding theme was "rustic chic." I spotted a bejeweled headband or two, as well as several boxy handbags exclusively held in the crook of one's elbow — Taylor Swift-style. The woman is consistent, I will give her that.
Now, onto the models themselves. Each girl pranced down the runway like she was having the time of her damn life. One — clad in a spruce-colored biker jacket and a floral tulip skirt — was beaming so aggressively, I genuinely thought that her sunglasses were going to pop off into the front row. It kind of made me go:
At one point, I witnessed a floor-grazing duster cardigan. Here's an exclusive look at what I said to those sweaters in 2002:
Duster cardigans? Duster cardigans?!?! Duster cardigans?
But my rage quickly dissipated when Dolly Parton's "Jolene" came on — an artist who, while fantastic, is decidedly not in line with Conrad's #brand. I loved every second of it.
Soon, it was time to bid adieu to Conrad's urban fairy tale. With all of its bows and glitter, the collection was one that may be best suited for the holiday season, rather than spring — but that's okay! With the apparel already available to shop, there's no reason why eager fans shouldn't just stock up now.
Here's hoping we don't have to wait another seven years for Conrad's next Fashion Week appearance — though, if we had to, the following should certainly keep us entertained until 2022 at least:
Note: This story has been updated to reflect the fact that Conrad adopted (rather than bought) her dogs, as well as to correct the name of her secondary clothing line, Paper Crown.
Homepage photo: Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images