Chris Benz Injects Parisian Ladies With Youth

Chris Benz
From Chris Benz's fall 2008 collection. Photo: Getty Images

At the Upper East Side’s Lotus Club, designer wunderkind Chris Benz’s presentation was a refreshing distance from Bryant Park and its fustercluck of photographers and actresses. And though we do love some glitz and front-row drama, four days in we start to appreciate the relaxed and easy presentations that start on time and allow us to take our time and examine the clothes for as long as we please. It's almost too relaxed and easy to be a part of Fashion Week.

Benz is probably the only one showing this week who wants his customers to look like eccentric grandes dames. “I was in Paris in September, and I was looking at a lot of senile old French women,” he explained. Eventually, Benz developed his prototype, “with her weird fur hat and, like, her slip is showing and she has like a big fur coat on and that whole thing.”

Benz’s youthful sensibility shaves a few years off his muse and dresses her in Technicolor. The clothes eschewed flash and overt sexiness in favor of a playful, hip sort of charm, like a sheer violet button-front blouse or little ruffles spilling over a neckline. Cardigans and sweaterdresses come in bright hues and evoke a sort of librarian sophistication, but fur wraps add enough glamour to ensure things are anything but geeky. In rare Fashion Week form, the models mostly wore low-heeled shoes, some of which were an interesting (and tempting) sneaker-ballet-flat hybrid, all by Manolo Blahnik for Chris Benz. The girls’ pale lips and skin added a welcome hint of heroin chic, and their soup-can-shaped hats teetered playfully to cap the collection. —Amy Odell

Related: Designer’s Journal: Chris Benz Prepares for Fashion Week
Video: Studio Tour With Chris Benz [NYM Video]
Browse a slideshow of the Chris Benz collection.