Simon Doonan Presents The Diet Pepsi Style Studio Fashion Show

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PHOTO: Mary-Kate Olsen & Simon Doonan

Four up-and-coming designers had the chance to show during their first Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week last night at the Diet Pepsi Style Studio Fashion Show. Presented by Simon Doonan at The Box at Lincoln Center, the show featured three fall-themed looks from each designer.

The first category—fierce safari prints—featured the designers’ takes on this popular trend. While some chose muted khaki tones as the basis for their designs, others opted for a less literal interpretation. “I didn’t want to do the stereotypical safari look with the khaki,” said Rae Marie, a Denver Col. native. “I tried to find interesting ways to mix—I had the tiger print and the leopard print—and just kind of keep it true to my style.” Her style is something she classifies as sexy, edgy and chic.

Next was avant-garde workwear, which featured asymmetrical tailored blazers and printed cropped pants. Project Runway alum Shirin Askari designed the blazer and wore a similar design of her own for the event. Along with the excitement of a fashion show during New York Fashion Week, Askari—who hails from Dallas, Tex.—recently won a design competition with the Italian Chamber of Commerce. “They contacted me and they were like, ‘We think you would be really great for this competition,’” she began. “Basically you showed your eight best pieces and then they had judges and they did a runway show every day and they picked.” Askari will travel to Milan Fashion Week for winning the competition.

PHOTO: Jay Alexander and Jay Manuel

The final look was inspired by the sleekness of Diet Pepsi cans and was labeled metallic finishes—or Silver Fox, Silver Fog as show curator Simon Doonan called it. Dresses in different shades of silver floated down the runway, with silhouettes ranging from body-conscious strapless dresses to floor-length gowns.

While all four designers were excited about the event, they agreed that they weren’t sure how Simon Doonan found them.

“I didn’t apply for this. They just found me,” said Genoveva Christoff, a Columbus, Ohio native. Elise Bergman—from Chicago, Ill.—agreed. “I heard that they did some research and I was the one that they chose,” she began. “It’s definitely an honor and surprising and exciting.”

So just how did Simon Doonan find the girls? “I got on a Greyhound bus, I went to every state in America,” he said. “We stayed at the DoubleTree, I stayed at youth hostels, we slept in a Winnebago. I went to coffee shops, bar mitzvahs, bingo parlors, old peoples’ homes, senior citizens’ festivals—anywhere where I thought there would be raw talent.” And what talent he found.

PHOTO: Kelly Rutherford

The Box was packed with people sipping cocktails and champagne as the girls presented their designs. Notable attendees included Mary-Kate Olsen, Kelly Rutherford, Debra Messing, Sandra Lee, Angela Simmons, Kristen Chenoweth, Jay Manuel, Jay Alexander and Christian Cota—the Diet Pepsi capsule collection designer. Also in attendance was Jonathan Adler—the designer of the Diet Pepsi Style Studio.

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