"Work of Art," Meet "Project Runway"
Source:Artinfo Author:Emma Allen Date: 2011-02-19 Size:
"Work of Art," Meet "Project Runway": Art Crowd Turns Out for Cynthia Rowley Fall 2011 Fashion Week Show

Designer Cynthia Rowley

 On Friday, that "Work of Art: The Next Top Artist" reunion that I have had a recurring dream about — not creepily, probably — became something of a reality, as Lincoln Center saw a stampede of WoAers at New York Fashion Week in support of designer Cynthia Rowley, wife of TV judge and gallerist Bill Powers. Guest judges from season one of the Bravo reality show — from artist Richard Phillips to Art Production Fund co-founder Yvonne Force Villareal — turned out for Rowley's runway show, as did Powers's fellow-judge, gallerist Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn.

From the non-televised art world, the evening also brought out the likes of filmmaker Chiara Clemente, along with artists Tom Sachs and Ryan McNamara. McNamara, in fact, collaborated with Rowley on the event, contributing a slightly confounding "model factory" concept and choreography.

The atrium felt like a combination of Art Basel Miami Beach and Penn Station as the swell of guests headed toward the Stage. The ever-fabulous front-row crowd included actresses Julia Stiles — rocking newly cropped bangs — and Greta Gerwig, looking fresh-faced and more demurely cool than mumblecore. Model Lauren Bush was showing off her watermelon-colored Feed tote bag to anyone who would pay attention.

Cynthia Rowley's Fall 2011 collection

I was seated a few rows behind Powers, who was dressed in a trademark cardigan, and Rowley's adorable daughters, who kept waving and yelping "Alan!" before the show began. As there is no one I can recall from "Work of Art" named Alan, I was confounded — until I saw a becomingly smirky Alan Cumming, who, having caught sight of the little Rowleys with his heavily eyelinered peepers, waved back at them from across the battered wooden runway.

I will shortly turn, as the evening did, to the clothing. But first to McNamara's factory. It sounds dystopian — runway as Upton Sinclair-ian space in which skeletal women are cranked out by machines operated by meat-handed men in grimy smocks — but of course it wasn't. It really just entailed models in silken under-pantaloon shorts and bras padding back and forth across the runway's entrance before each new look was strutted down the aisle. (To the tune, it bears mentioning, of "I Love You," a hot demo track by performance-art darling Kalup Linzy and his A-list sidekick James Franco, mixed by the Misshapes.)

Now the garments: Distressed velvet and shaved velveteens evoked the worn interiors of sumptuous country estates, while interlocking geometric patterning, little Plexiglass geometric hair accessories, and large sunglasses buoyed the Victorian with the chicness of early modernism. A stream of brunette (score!) models sassily stomped along in a rich array of browns, deep indigos, greens — from emerald, to olive, to Kelly — as well as the good kinds of purple.

And I can't help but love the mysterious descriptions of the shoes, which were, moreover, wonderful in real life. "Aged velvet calf boots with architectural heel, Kool-Aid toned prism pumps, aged velvet slippers with scarab embroidery, aged velvet d'Orsay pumps and weathered velvet ups with patent leather side reveal," the program read. All in all, Rowley seems to have dressed a new generation of fantastic princesses in various glitter-strewn and flowing silk numbers. My final note to myself from the show simply reads, "Velvet and sparkles? It's good to be a girl again."

[Editor] Lola Xu