Milly's Michelle Smith Talks Designing for Next Gen Red-Carpet Stars

Milly FW 16 - P 2016
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Looking at you, Kiernan Shipka.

If “The Intimacy of Winter” sounds like a contradiction of sorts, it’s because it is.

“I was thinking a lot about how, as women, we cover ourselves up and we conceal ourselves and sort of hide our femininity in the winter,” said Michelle Smith of her fall 2016 collection backstage at Pier 59 pre-show on Feb. 12. “We kind of go dormant. And I wanted to reveal that in a really beautiful, sensual way.”

In some cases, the interpretation was a literal representation of “intimacy,” with models hitting the catwalk in black high-waisted briefs and elegant bralettes styled with rich overcoats embroidered with applique details in vivid reds or emerald greens.

On the less revealing side of the spectrum, bralettes were also layered over thick sweaters and button-down blouses, adding a peek of femininity to the androgynous silhouettes that have ruled the runways as of late.

BRALETTE BABES: Looks from Milly's fall 2016 collection. (Photos: Getty Images)

“I’ve also played a lot with juxtaposition,” said Smith. “If I’m using a men’s suiting fabric, I’ll cut a very ruffley, feminine silhouette. Or if I’m using maybe a more couture fabric, I’m doing a more minimal silhouette, and I love that it has the element of surprise that I think is really modern.”

Jackie Cruz, who plays Marisol “Flaca” Gonzales on Netflix's Orange Is the New Black, snagged a front-row seat after being drawn to Milly’s innovative style. “This is my first time coming here, so I’m excited — I’m wearing her right now,” she said, pointing to her blue frock. “It’s super my style. I was, like, ‘Oh, I want that.’ And it fit me perfectly. Well, kind of, because I have a lot of boobs.”

BLUE IS THE NEW BLACK: Jackie Cruz at the Milly fall 2016 show on Feb. 12. (Photo: Getty Images)

The actress has a busy fashion week ahead, following a long awards season — but it's not like she’s complaining. “It was so amazing,” said Cruz of the SAG Awards, where Orange Is the New Black took home the top honors for best ensemble in a comedy series. “You know, I’m sitting next to Leonardo DiCaprio, holding the same statue that he’s holding. I mean, you can’t go higher than that.”

As for Smith, she definitely had the red carpet in mind, too. “There were a lot of really pretty dresses that I was actually thinking, ‘Oh! This would be perfect for the red carpet!’” she gushed, noting that she’d love to see her designs on some younger, stylish actresses like Kiernan Shipka as well as her tried-and-true fans like Solange.

Smith added, “I’m just really inspired by smart intelligent, accomplished women.”