New York Fashion Week is known as a stage for emerging talent, and this season we have our eyes on five new labels. After designing for Donna Karan and Giorgio Armani, Anthony Keegan is launching his first fall collection for Commonwealth Utilities. Celebrated Spanish designer David Delfin will show in New York for the first time. Hayden Harnett is also debuting this Fashion Week, fresh on the heels of a well-received Target collection. Matthew Ames will present the ultimate in minimalism, while Nicholas K is focusing on leather and shearling outerwear. See their work and read more about these rising stars in the slideshow.
Keegan has held top menswear design positions at Giorgio Armani, Versace, Kenneth Cole, and Donna Karan, but next week's is just the second collection under his own label, Commonwealth Utilities. Keegan describes the label as "a Champagne and Oreos aesthetic" -- think Tom Ford living in the Lower East Side. Oversize bow ties in shirt fabrics are Keegan's signature for fall 2009, and stores like Bergdorf and Saks have already expressed keen interest. For his special presentation in his studio on February 11, Keegan's using five male models, who will actually change outfits in front of guests. "Picture super-hot guys getting naked in front of everyone -- they just kind of, like, strip," Keegan says. "I think getting dressed and undressed is so sexy."
Delfin has racked up awards in Madrid for years: Best Spanish Designer in 2008, Marie Claire Prix de la Mode Best Young Spanish Designer in 2003, and L'Oréal's best collection in 2003. Now he's making the jump to New York Fashion Week. "I have been in love with New York my whole life, the energy, the people, it is an amazing place," he said. It helps that his close friend Miguel Adrover also shows here. Delfin's clean, modern lines, close-fitting cuts, and muted -- yet fun (pink for men!) -- color palette should garner him some attention. His new collection is based on a quintessential New Yorker, Diane Arbus, and her work. "Arbus had an uncanny ability to bring beauty and dignity to her subjects, many of whom society did not necessarily or readily find dignified or beautiful. She created a window for us all to look into. I have brought this concept into my collection, which I am calling 'revelations.'"
Bag fiends have been hitting the Greenpoint, Brooklyn, store of Toni Hacker and Ben Harnett since it opened almost two years ago. The duo just launched a well-received Target line, but this is their first time showing at Fashion Week. They're presenting at the Chelsea Hotel: "Room 219 on 2/19. Totally an accident, but I loved the synchronicity of it all," Toni said. The "Cargo Cult" theme of the collection is based on the belief system of South Pacific islanders, which "revolves around praying for goods to fall out of planes or off ships and wash up on their shore. If they appease the gods, they might be rewarded by a dishwasher or a crate of galoshes." What will fall from Hayden Harnett's sky? The soft leathers and suedes we've come to appreciate on the HH bags reappear on motorcycle jackets and outerwear, and the dresses have a soft, Art Deco feel: sequins, chiffon, and the in-house prints (which we've also seen on the bags), in a black-and-gold color theme.
You won't find decorative zippers, buttons, or even linings on Matthew Ames's clothes. Working with luxurious fabrics like cashmere and silk to create soft, sculptural shapes, the designer tries to remove "unnecessary excess" from his pieces. Ames was a finalist at the selective Hyeres fashion-and-photography festival in France in 2004, and has worked for Jurgi Persoons in Antwerp and Miguel Adrover in New York. For his fall 2009 collection, Ames is working with new fabrics like Ultrasuede and denim with "beautiful finishings" inside the garments. He says many of the ideas he's been perfecting for years are especially relevant in a recession. For example, his new collection includes a dress that can be worn five different ways. "You feel like you're buying something unique that has a lot of versatility and is easy," Ames says. "And I think the timelessness of things -- the fabrics, the cashmere, all of that -- it's not something that's just for one season." Neither is Ames.
The brother-and-sister team of Nicholas K, who have become darlings of the fashion-editor set, is finally presenting their soft leathers, shearlings, and outerwear to Fashion Week, as part of a three-collection show along with Sergio Davila and Mara Hoffman, in Bryant Park. The line is full of relaxed, casual pieces that are easily mixed and matched into existing wardrobes, with an emphasis on coats and dresses. These are clothes you can wear day and night, with just a change of heels. Nicholas and Christopher Kunz have a sartorial pedigree: Nicholas (the sister) worked with Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, DKNY, and Polo. Christopher, though he has a degree in biochemistry and molecular-cellular biology, also worked for Polo Ralph Lauren. And, yes ladies, he's the model for the menswear look books.
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