Today saw the unveiling of Sidewalk Catwalk, a designer-centric public-art installation put together by the Fashion Center Business Improvement District. Thirty-two designers — including Michael Kors, Donna Karan, and Isabel Toledo — were handed one fiberglass mannequin each and instructed to fashion it as they saw fit. Fashion Center president Barbara Randall, who was on hand this morning at Herald Square to present the creations, said she saw the project as an opportunity "for the designers to present themselves artistically rather than commercially." Some creatives took the advice to heart (Prabal Gurung turned his mannequin into an Alexander McQueen tribute); others — like Rebecca Taylor — put together the kind of garments that inspire RTW envy. The mannequins will be on display in the Garment District through September 3; after that, they'll be auctioned off and proceeds will benefit Materials for the Arts. Click ahead to see a slideshow of all 32 magnificent creations.
Tommy Hilfiger draped his mannequin in an American flag.
Elie Tahari used aluminum and fiberglass to craft his mannequin's dress. "It was inspired by Richard Lippold's sculpture at Avery Fisher Hall," he said.
Rachel Roy outfitted her mannequin in a felt vest, studded bustier, OTK snakeskin boots, and a gold mesh skirt.
Kenneth Cole's nearly nude mannequin echoed his billboards. In this case, the message was, "Underneath it all, you're naked." But the designer did include a pair of studded gladiator wedges in the ensemble.
Donna Karan's taxi-cab-yellow mannequin certainly popped. The designer outfitted her creation in a dress printed with black-and-white photos of New York City, a DKNY baseball cap, and a black backpack pinned with "I love New York" buttons (which a PR girl worried might be stolen).
Maria Cornejo's nylon sack dress glows in the dark.
FIT students Christopher Ciaccia and Ariel Penzer said building their mannequin's incredibly detailed dress was like "tiling a wall."
Betsey Johnson covered her mannequin in doodles and personal photographs. The designer even showed up Wednesday night to cut and style its wig. Fun fact: The flowers on the belt aren't fake; they'll be replenished regularly as long as the mannequin is on display.
Michael Kors dressed his mannequin in a simple leather-and-plastic shift.
Rebecca Moses crafted a metal mesh top, synthetic fringe vest, and felt skirt for her mannequin.
Yeohlee Teng's brick dress was inspired by the architecture of the city.
Isabel Toledo used drinking straws to form the pleats of her dress.
The neon flowers on Nanette Lepore's creation glow in the dark.
Prabal Gurung's butterfly-laden design is an homage to the late Alexander McQueen.
Diane Von Furstenberg skipped the clothes and just painted her mannequin with purple leopard spots.
The dress covering Victor Alfaro's mannequin is made from a real parachute. The designer wanted it to look as if she had just landed in New York.
Carmen Marc Valvo's tiered dress is made from burlap woven with metal.
Rebecca Taylor's frock looks like it could hang on the rack at one of her stores.
Jill Stuart's structured dress was copied directly from a design in her fall collection. Cristina Ruales, Jill Stuart's vice-president of design, told us the look was inspired by "a New York gust of wind" — hence the windswept wig and "movement" at the bottom of the frock.
Badgley Mischka layered serious sequins under embroidered plastic.
John Bartlett was inspired by military looks and Eastern dress. No sewing was involved; rather, the designer had an Indian friend drape the mannequin's gown like a sari. The bracelets and belt were made from materials picked up at Home Depot.
Carlos Falchi layered graffiti over snakeskin, and topped the look with a neon glow-in-the-dark skirt.
Jason Wu incorporated sophisticated draping and pleating into his mannequin's gown — no small feat when you're working with stubborn tarplike material.
Thom Browne covered his mannequin in seashells.
Isaac Mizrahi incorporated zippers into his mannequin's gown.
Parsons Students Niyati Karwat and Emily Saunders created a Victorian-caged crinoline as a nod to the Fashion District's 1850s inception. The mannequin's outfit is made entirely of natural materials, and the duo hopes the moss lining the skirt will eventually sprout flowers.
Naeem Khan mixed textures by outfitting a metal-studded mannequin in an embroidered leotard, beaded breastplate, and a headdress dripping with chains.
Adam Lippes covered his mannequin in rhinestones.
Stephen Burrows painted his mannequin's lips into a heart and dressed her in a sidewalk-sweeping gown.
Catherine Malandrino layered a clear raincoat over an American-flag-print shirtdress.
Nicole Miller's bondage bustier was covered in smooth stones.
Norma Kamali's mannequin invited viewers to visit the designer's website. Clever, clever!
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