NEW YORK CITY — When fashion designer Ryan Jordan walked through Union Square recently, an image struck him.
"I just saw a girl in a full-length gown, sheer," said Jordan, 24, who quickly snapped a photo. "She was in sneakers, on a skateboard and I was like 'Wow, that is hot.'"
Contrasts such as this formed the basis for Jordan's own line, which will debut during New York Fashion Week at a Friday show in the Meatpacking District. Jordan's designs have been worn by pop star and fashion icon Lady Gaga, giving him a coveted celebrity endorsement that puts him a step ahead of other emerging designers.
Nonetheless, his eponymous label will sink or swim on the strength of his first collection.
"Unconventional combos. That is definitely in the collection," Jordan said about his spring/summer 2014 show, which is not part of the official Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week line-up, but is one of many shows that happen independently during the style extravaganza.
"You will see combos that are definitely not normally mixed in a collection," he said.
While Jordan's new designs don't stray far from his previous abstract pieces — Lady Gaga wore a python-embossed leather skirt with horse hair trim and a black cup-less mesh corset of his — the designer promises this collection will be more wearable.
"For this collection it is definitely more commercialized than what people have seen me do, than what is out there already," said Jordan, a San Francisco native who moved to New York six years ago to study fashion at Parsons the New School for Design.
It was from his Parsons' thesis collection that Lady Gaga, along with her design collaborator and art director Nicola Formichetti, chose the two pieces, one worn in a Vogue magazine photo shoot and the other when the pop star stepped off a plane on the Australian leg of a concert tour.
"That happened two weeks after I graduated," said Jordan, who lives in Brooklyn. "I got an email from the Gaga team saying that she wanted to see it." He described the whole experience as "humbling."
But while a woman world famous for her cutting-edge outfits has already worn Jordan's designs, there are two style icons that have an even stronger influence on Jordan — his mother and grandmother.
Both women have intense pride in their appearance and style, Jordan said. His mother worked in high-end retail and she inspired him to become a designer in the first place.
"I was raised by all women, very independent women," Jordan said. "They are self-assured, fearless. Basically, women who didn't need a spouse to raise a family.
"They are the foundation for my collection."