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'Mannequin Couture' Comes to Fashion Week Tents

By Della Hasselle | February 14, 2012 10:49am

UPPER WEST SIDE — The big names may be showing on the runways inside the darkened halls of Fashion Week, but a few lucky designers are enjoying their own moment in the spotlight — in the lobby.

Fashion is spilling out from the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Fall 2012 tents into the Lincoln Center lobby, thanks to three "Mannequin Couture" exhibits.

Brands such as Pepsi and Mercedes-Benz are staging their own fashion shows featuring mannequins dressed in sequins, silks and even paper that were created by a range of designers from students to fashion icons such as Naeem Khan.

In partnership with fashion commentator Simon Doonan, Diet Pepsi gave four up-and-coming regional designers the opportunity to showcase their collections at the 'Diet Pepsi Style Studio' fashion show on the evening of Feb. 9 in The Box at Lincoln Center.

The collections are on display in lobby for Fashion Week spectators to see all week.

“Project Runway” alum and Dallas-based designer Shirin Askari was one of the four tastemakers whose work is featured in the pop-up exhibit.

“The show was amazing,” Askari, 26, said while showing off her design, an off-the-shoulder silver dress created for a part of the challenge entitled "Silver Fog and Silver Fox," in which the participants were asked to mimic the look of the Pepsi can.

"There were all these celebrities there. It was very surprising, actually."

The other designers selected for the challenge include Colorado’s Rachel Hurst of Rae Marie, Genoveva Christoff from Columbus, OH, and Elise Bergman of Chicago, IL.

Each designer had 14 days to create three pieces- the aforementioned “Silver Fog and Silver Fox” look, an “Intrepid Safari” look and the “Avant Garde Work Wear” look. The looks are being rotated for display every day, according to designer Rachel Hurst.

“It was really refreshing to take a fashion challenge like that,” Hurst said. “It’s great to have to invent something last minute.”

For the exhibit, Hurst created a dress made of silk charmeuse and sequins.

Situated across from the Pepsi exhibit, luxury fabrics abounded in the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week exhibit, a collaboration between the company and fashion designer Naeem Khan.

Aptly entitled "Star Style," the exhibit is based on items movie stars might wear on the red carpet at the Academy Awards. The exhibit is part of a challenge encouraging fashion enthusiasts to create their own "sets" or looks using the designs of Naeem Khan and accessories made by Ranjana Khan and Bowens Bergeron.

Khan’s designs in the exhibit, all silver, range from sequinned backless dresses to gowns with fluttering fur skirts.

"For me, my fashion is wearable art," Khan said of his embroideries, which have been a craft in his family for more than 100 years.

Khan says that some of his designs take more than a week to make, even when up to 30 people are working on it them once.

“Most of my clothes are handcrafted, and take a long, long time to make,” he added.

The third exhibit displayed in the lobby at Fashion Week this season consists of two dresses created entirely out of packing materials for DHL, the logistics provider for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.

The dresses are the results of a contest held by award-winning Marjorie Woo’s visual merchandising class at LIM college, a school devoted to the business of fashion.

The origami-looking designs, complete with asymmetrical dresses and hats with mini-airplanes on them, double as a backdrop for a free photo booth the company has created to promote their brand.

“Overall, you see a lot of brands at Fashion Week that don’t necessarily fit in with fashion,” photographer and LIM professor Michael Creagh said.

“To get more exposure as a brand in this day and age, you don’t want people to just look at stuff. You want them to play.”

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