NYFW Recap: The Evening Market

Event dressing is a staple among New York’s designers, and while some went a bit casual the past few seasons to accommodate the new reality of a pandemic, the creatives are pivoting back to occasion dress and bringing their A game. Here, WWD spotlights some of the category’s standouts this season.

Dennis Basso RTW Spring 2023

Courtesy of Dennis Basso

Dennis Basso

An industry stalwart, Dennis Basso has crafted his take on elegant dress for more than 40 years. This season he went organic, looking at summer gardens, the type one finds in Newport, Palm Beach or Beverly Hills. Perfect locales, considering those are the places his core customer calls home. “I wanted this to feel special,” he said backstage before his anniversary collection. “That was so important to me.”

So to the garden he went, with florals on a strapless A-line gown that flowed down the runway. There was a lot of white and ivory, little cocktail dresses or a flowing pant with a feather bolero. They felt renewed and exciting. Basso knows his customer, young or old, and he is leaning into an old-school staple, the summer fur. “They aren’t really jackets,” he said, “more like an accessory.” He styled them throughout the collection, some wrapping around bedazzled gowns or casually thrown over the shoulder, adding a kiss of glamour from days past. Scott Nelson bags and Gale Grant jewels were the finishing touch.

Basso is the first to show in the newly renovated Pierre Hotel’s Grand Ballroom; his was the first same-sex wedding there, too. It’s the ideal setting for his Ladies Who Lunch clients, many of whom dotted his front row, including Martha Stewart, Kris Jenner, Star Jones and Candace Bushnell.

Reem Acra Spring 2023

Reem Acra

Reem Acra offered a romantic color palette of rich yellows, shades of corals, array of blues and metallics. These are embellished looks meant for weddings, galas, and just places to make a statement.

The collection embraced the sirwal pant silhouette in brocades, chiffons and crepes with a touch of embellishment. Oversized capes in different shapes and textures layered over pantsuits, gowns and separates completed the look. Statement gowns, modern kaftans and unique separates were seen throughout the collection.

A look from Naeem Khan spring 2023.

Naeem Khan

Naeem Khan unveiled his “Jardin de Nuit” collection under the disco ball at Sony Hall in Midtown Manhattan and true to form, the clothes shone just as brightly as the Sanjay Kasliwal jewels they were accessorized with. 

Backstage, Khan cited the flower paintings he began working on during lockdown as his inspiration — not exactly groundbreaking material, but that was to his point: the designer wanted to capture an uncomplicated, playful spirit for spring and he did just that once a few heavy-handed openers in embroidered raffia cleared the runway.

From there, the mood picked up with beaded fringe minis and ‘80s-style poufs awash in watercolor prints. Two knockout sheer slips, one long and one short with a cowl neck, stood out for svelte sex appeal, but the freshest looks of the bunch were Khan’s take on formal separates: shirts and wide-leg trousers in appliqué lace, which provided a much-needed moment of ease with attitude amid the decadence.

Badgley Mischka Spring 2023

Randy Brooke

Badgley Mischka

Mark Badgley and James Mischka are back. Like the rest of us, the duo have laid low the past few years, but a recent trip to Morocco left them feeling invigorated. “We brought back colors, smells, and experiences from the Medina and the Casbah, burnishing them to a cosmopolitan polish,” they said via their collection notes. Embellishment is core to the brand, and spring sees them dive in, partnered with some of Casablanca’s famous workrooms to create embroideries and gowns inspired by tales of the desert and the sea. “Perfect for glamorous evenings in Beverly Hills or London,” they noted.

Tailoring came cinched at the waist, and a boxy shoulder with a slim cigarette pant looked particularly strong on a knockout burgundy-hued sequin number. Evening looks used saturated hues of ocean, aloe, melon, mango, pomegranate and lemon, with many tiers of ruffles, hints of skin, crafted with the flair of the North African country. There was lots of play with volume, in satins, mikados, chiffons, organzas and crepes. A bright, optimistic collection from a duo who, like the rest of us, is just happy to be back in the world.

Andrew Kwon RTW Spring 2023

Courtesy of Andrew Kwon

Andrew Kwon

“I love bridal and the women I got to, and still get to, dress, as I’m debuting bridal again next month too, but I’ve always conveyed that I love evening. Red carpet has always been one of my biggest pieces of inspiration — I grew up in a place where red carpet wasn’t a thing,” said emerging designer Andrew Kwon, who debuted a concise eveningwear assortment, his first, at the Baccarat Hotel. “Now I get to play with even more fabrics, play with more colors and push it to the top.”

His third collection, titled “Reverie,” was an ode to his dreams, which came through specialty styles, like an ombre watercolor two-piece set with 3D floral appliqués, painstakingly hand-embroidered netted full sequin skirts paired with corset bustiers, shimmering strapless statement gowns, tiered tulle confections and a few alternative nods to bridal.

Bibhu Mohapatra Spring 2023.

INDIGITAL.TV / Yannis Vlamos

Bibhu Mohapatra

Paired to the rhythm of techno beats (for the beginning portion of the designer’s runway show), Bibhu Mohapatra’s spring lineup took cues from French Surrealist photographer, sculptor, and writer Claude Cahun — best known as a writer and self-portraitist, who assumed a variety of performative personae.

For spring, Mohapatra dialed up the youth factor from previous seasons, showcasing a lineup of sultry eveningwear that contested the normal notions of gender and beauty, while still holding onto the brand’s DNA.

Floral lace dresses paired (this one in a baby blue) with a white chest harness rig, sequined dresses with volume, a halter-top bubble dress (train included) and a deep V-cut pleated gown were some of the standouts from the youthful lineup.

Mohapatra’s signature silhouettes continues to be visible throughout each season, and this time around the designer successfully blended his artisanal details with an added dose of fluidity.

Cucculelli Shaheen Spring 2023

Cucculelli Shaheen

Titled “La Trouvaille,” partners Anthony Cucculelli and Anna Rose Shaheen wanted to take guests on a journey via the runway for spring. Texture, embroideries, fringe – their customer clearly wants to make a statement when she enters a room. In the lineup was a black and white palette with pops of green and pink, geometric cutouts and handmade fringe that offered a lot of look. Upping the shine, the duo styled the looks with jewelry from Fabergé.

Pamella Roland Spring 2023.

Pamella Roland

Monday night was a double whammy for Pamella Roland. While she was celebrating her brand’s 20th anniversary in New York, actress Rachel Brosnahan was walking the Emmys’ red carpet wearing one of Roland’s fall 2022 designs in Los Angeles. The synchronicity seemed kismet – the Roland name was built on the backs of women looking for that Cinderella moment and the dress she put on Brosnahan, along with those she put on the runway, spoke directly to them. 

Backstage, the designer was teary-eyed – after all, the ability to prove one’s longevity in this business is no small feat. To what does she credit her success? “We listen to our customer, that’s why we’re still here.” 

What her customer wants is razzle-dazzle, and this being an ode to New York, there was loads of it. Wasp-waisted ball silhouettes with scalloped-embroidery reminiscent of Dior’s “Venus” were the most elegant in a procession of cape-backed draped chiffon gowns, feather-accented cocktail ensembles, and curvaceous fishtails dripping in sequins. The standouts, though, were the most subdued: a white crepe jumpsuit with trailing sleeves and lace halter-neck in balletic tulle (a big trend this season) felt like the right palette cleansers moving into the next 20.

Chiara Boni spring 2023.

Matteo Prandoni/BFA.com

Chiara Boni La Petite Robe

The Italians invaded New York this fashion week (just see the blowout runway spectacles put on by Fendi and Marni), but Florentine native Chiara Boni staked her claim here first. She has been showing in the U.S. for quite some time, delighting her crowd of strait-laced business types and politicos with the kind of straight-cut knee-length dresses in sorbet colored stretch crepe that turned up on the runway Tuesday.

Just like Anita Ekberg underscored in the show soundtrack, Boni was feeling “amore, amore, amore” this season, channeling La Dolce Vita style from the late ’50s and early ’60s. Tailoring was sharp with tunics and double-breasted blazers worn over split-hem trousers. Stronger moments came, however, when she broke free from the cling, letting loose with a light-as-air baby-doll frock and single shoulder caftan covered in lilacs.

The surprise finale was a parade of wedding looks in all sorts of variations (long, short, strapless, A-line, ruffled, draped and so on) — clearly, the designer is making her bid for bridal early as the shows for that market do not start until mid-October.

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