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There was a sizable contingent of style-setters anxiously checking their phones every few minutes Sunday evening, Feb. 13, at New York Fashion Week, looking for Super Bowl LVI score updates from So-Fi Stadium. And even with his runway show scheduled for smack dab during game time, Los Angeles-based designer Sergio Hudson managed to make a winning fashion statement on both coasts.
To kick off the L.A. Rams versus the Cincinnati Bengals face off, country singing sensation Mickey Guyton delivered her stirring version of The Star-Spangled Banner in a long-sleeved Hudson gown with his knife-sharp tailoring in his signature cobalt blue. Meanwhile on the catwalk in Manhattan, Hudson took his audience on a playful fashion jaunt that also showed the softer side of power dressing in watery tones of iris, salmon and minty green.
Cheering the designer on from the stands was The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel star Rachel Brosnahan, also clad in Hudson’s characteristic cobalt in a plunging blazer and matching wide trousers. After the show, she told The Hollywood Reporter, “I love to see color like this back on the runway.”
The actress, whose stylist is Alexandra Mandelkorn, recently donned a bold red ensemble by the designer, with a skirt slit up to there, for her Maisel press tour as well as a can’t-miss-it marigold yellow belted coat for the show’s fourth season premiere last week. “I’m such a fan of Sergio and it’s my first show of his in person, so it was phenomenal,” she added. “I can’t wait to get my hands on a whole bunch of these looks.”
Brosnahan and the rest of Hudson’s fan club won’t have to wait long. Continuing with his preference for “See now, buy now” runway shows, the designer was presenting spring-summer 2022 looks, which are already available to purchase on his website.
From the first wrapper in an enlarged leopard-print silk that slithered around the model’s black sheath, Hudson worked a subtle safari vibe, interspersed with items like a burnt umber leather shorts suit (that Brosnahan mentioned she had her eye on) and then segued into the sleekly shaped sheaths he’s known for in a newly pastel palette as well as swingy little dresses and multicolor striped figure-huggers.
Morphing into stronger shades of Kelly green, orange sherbet and canary yellow and a palette-cleanser of white-shirt-inspired numbers, Hudson took a slinkier approach to evening than before, with fluid silk gowns in new-for-him unstructured slip-like variations, some accented with corset detailing. And everything was finished off with sky-high heels from the designer’s collaboration with Malone Souliers.
Asked about his inspiration, Hudson said after the show that the mashup of refreshed shades was suggested by the colorful garb of the Ndebele tribe in South Africa — but with a surprising twist.
“That’s how it all started and that’s [also] where the safari theme came from,” he explained. “But then I thought, how do I blend this safari look with the playful L.A. girl that I saw in my head? And then I saw the colors and it was like, ‘Oh, this is playful, this is Cher from Clueless, this is Whitley Gilbert, this is all these great characters I grew up loving.”
Hudson also got a big rise out of the crowd by casting two iconic models to walk in his show. To enthusiastic cheering and a room full of cell phones held aloft to catch the action on the raised runway, out strode Beverly Johnson, the first African American model to appear on the cover of American Vogue in 1974, in a dusty pink dress with saucy ruffle hem. She was followed a few looks later by Veronica Webb, fondly remembered from the runways of ‘80s stars like Isaac Mizrahi and Todd Oldham, in a plum satin mini and safari jacket.
“It wasn’t performative,” the designer said. ”It wasn’t because I wanted people to be amazed. I wanted older women to know that there’s the place for you in this industry and in beautiful clothing because that’s who buys my clothes. A 21-year-old can’t afford my clothes at the time. So these are the women that I am dressing every day, and to be able to represent them in the show was much more important.”
Hudson wrapped up by saying he’s looking forward to a reconstituted Hollywood award season and awaiting new dates for some of the events postponed by the omicron-fueled COVID-19 surge. “Hopefully we’ll have time to do some great things,” he said.
Upate 2/22/22: Changed to spring/summer 2022 collection.
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