For S/S 09, rising womenswear designer, Chris Benz graduated from static presentation to runway but kept the intimacy of previous proceedings by constructing a lovingly handpainted set in the beautiful 37 The Arts theatre in Chelsea. It was the perfect setting to showcase his fresh yet romantic vision of femininity – “Revolutionary War era dressing in silk and matte fabrics.” All showcased in his trademark sweet and lovely colour palette – lemon yellow, burnt orange, turquoise green. When the models all walked out at the end, they looked like a blur of multicoloured lollipops. Backstage, he defended his reputation for colour in a sea of New York black – “It’s an important part of American sportswear and American design. Obviously you can wear a lot of black but it’s great when you can layer it with colour.”
Benz is an ambitious young designer who has been showing Resort collections right from the beginning – “it’s the realities of the market. Also I just really like to be designing.” For him, he’s trying to solve the puzzle of American sportwear – “ It’s trying to NOT design couture. It’s about colour, fabric, fit and proportion. What is it to be American and how do all those things fit together.”
As for the lovely set, designed by his friend Brian from Felt Etcetera, “We had tons of inspirations, old photographs. It was a lot of problem solving. With the way the space worked we had to have models change on stage so that’s why we put up a huge paint canvas!” Also spotted – a famous Japanese pop star and Gossip Girl’s Taylor Momsen!