Chris Benz's offerings this season were decidedly darker and dreamier than we're used to seeing from the designer, who's best known for his sherbet-bright separates. "I was inspired by Savannah, Georgia," Benz told Marie Claire during his super-crowded presentation. "I've been working so much with SCAD (the Savannah College of Art & Design, where Benz is a mentor), and the city has this haunted beauty about it… It's very old-fashioned. I was thinking about the influx of edgy art-school students into a historic place." Standouts in Chris' collection included a shimmering gold cardigan jacket, a pair of festive floral dresses ringed with ruffles, and a dramatic smoke-print gown inspired by Savannah's "gorgeous graveyards." Says Benz, "I love the nostalgia of the past … and I think that concepts of beauty really carry forward throughout the ages. For me, it's always about a certain carefree spirit, about girls who don't take themselves too seriously and who aren't too buttoned-up." Yet another sign the talented young designer's all about pushing the envelope? He was sporting Manic Panic-esque multicolored stripes in his hair on presentation day.
Rachel Comey, who's earned a loyal following thanks to her super-comfy wooden clogs and granny-chic silhouettes, sent out a mix of collegiate corduroy separates, slouchy patterned pants, and graphic zigzag prints at her show last week. Backstage, we asked the designer about the modest silhouettes and somewhat androgynous cuts she showed. "The collection has lots of visible slips and slits… It's about feminine underlayers with a menswear element," she said. For our part, we loved the irregular pleating and quirky plays on volume — it's these sorts of unexpected details that keep her fans clamoring for more. This collection wasn't Comey's only recent major accomplishment as of late — the designer recently gave birth to a son, Bruno. Could a Comey Kids label be in the works? "I wouldn't rule it out!" she laughed. "I'm always looking for new lines, and I love to experiment."
Up-and-coming label Honor may not be a household name just yet, but designer Giovanna Randall is already gathering critical acclaim after only two seasons. Her fall collection was packed with '70s-inspired chiffon cocktail numbers and minimalist-chic coats, all cast in a palette of neutral grays and camels punched up with the occasional hit of emerald or marigold. Randall told Marie Claire she had been inspired by the concept of "bound movement" and of the uptown girl displaced — picture a Parisian femme stranded in the Wild West. "It's all about texture-blocking and protective layering," Randall noted. "This girl wants to be free, but she's limited by her surroundings." We loved that the designer teamed her dressed-up designs with simple Repetto flats, a styling decision that brought the dreamy looks instantly down to earth. As for the ultimate cool-girl stamp of approval? We spied style star Alexa Chung seated in the front row.
Tell Marie Claire: Which new designer did you fall for at New York Fashion Week? Share your favorites in the Comments section below!