Catching up with Designer Chris Benz

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For designer Chris Benz, spring 2012 was a true hometown affair. "I was really inspired by that feeling we all get in New York over the summer, when's it's one outrageously hot day after the next," he told me during Monday's Lincoln Center presentation. "My team and I were brainstorming muses, and we landed on Candy Darling and the Warhol superstars—and the idea that they would all go to Coney Island to escape the hot city." That midsummer, gotta-get-out feeling translated into slouchy silk trousers, electric-hued blossoms screened on chiffon, and a dizzying geometric circle print. Meanwhile, the designer's droolworthy accessories—from floral sneakers he dreamt up with footwear maestro Alejandro Ingelmo to tasseled baubled he collaborated on with The Woods—added just the right touch of offbeat glamour. Nearly every piece, of course, was saturated with the same super-bright tones Benz has made his creative calling card. "I love the challenge of taking colors that are totally disparate and making them work together in an interesting way," he told me of the bold pinks, seafoam greens, and tangerines he incorporated this season.

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Question is, who could Benz envision wearing these pieces in their day-to-day lives? "I'm always inspired by all of my friends," he said. "I aspire to make clothes that my friends would want to wear, that they would gravitate towards anyway. But I feel like it would be especially great to see New Yorkers in these looks during the summer, since they're so easy-breezy." And with pals that include actress Susan Sarandon and her daughter Eva Amurri, not to mention Fashion Police's Kelly Osbourne, I have no doubt that we'll be seeing these sequined standouts on the streets of Manhattan (or perhaps a red carpet) quite soon.

As for Benz's neon-pink hair, which has fast become one of his signatures, he told me he has no plans to switch to another color anytime soon. "I feel like it just works!" he laughed. "I can't change it now. It's pink from here on out!"

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