Pret-a-Reporter

NYFW Photo Diary: Inside Alice + Olivia's Semi-Nude Body Painting Spectacle and Art-Filled Show

Sam Reed

Another highly Instagrammable presentation from Stacey Bendet.

When Alice + Olivia's Stacey Bendet creates a concept for one of her hotly anticipated and always Instagrammable presentations, she really commits.

Such was the case on Tuesday afternoon, Valentine's Day, when she revealed her fall 2017 collection at the Highline Stages in Chelsea. 

"For my birthday someone gave me a book called The Enchantress of Florence [by British-Indian novelist, Salman Rushdie, who was in attendance at the presentation], and as I was reading it I thought, ‘This is the most beautiful story.’ I wanted to create it," she told The Hollywood Reporter before launching into one of her infamously thorough explanations of the inspiration.

Bendet went on to explain how an emperor in the story hired an artist to illustrate the tale of the enchantress in a massive mural, from which the enchantress sprang to life. So, naturally, the designer hired artist Trina Merry to paint seminude models as live fixtures in a mural featuring miniature caricatures of Bendet herself, identified by oversize round black glasses and a black bun. Other references to the work include the inclusion of Botticelli's The Birth of Venus painting, which was repurposed as a textile for a ball gown skirt. (Bendet has previously borrowed imagery from Basquiat as well as The Grateful Dead dancing bears for her collections.)

"The overriding theme is about this woman, this enchantress who is writing her own destiny. I thought that was very apropos to the moment," she said. "Warfare is a theme, so I wanted this sort of rebel, military element juxtaposing the beauty of Florence during the renaissance."

She clarified, however, that the statement of rebelliousness — translated visually in olive green anoraks, camo prints and a stiff military jacket — was not a political one. "Rather than making it about male/female, or about political parties, I was like, it’s really just about — as the book says — commanding your own destiny." 

See images from Bendet's presentation below.

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