The moment I walked through the historical wooden doors of the Gothic Revival synagogue, now known as the Angel Orensanz Center, I felt as though I had stepped into another world. That world was filled with magic, fantasy, romance and elicited emotions of pure delight. This was the fantasy world created by Alice + Olivia for their Fall 2019 presentation.
Stacey Bendet and her team produced a captivating “Fantasia” collection which filled the space of the 1849 synagogue with excitement and dazzle. The sequins, velvet, various textures and prints set the foundation for magical and elaborate sets that enabled one’s imagination to escape reality and enter the world each look embodied.
With the vignettes, you could visit anything: a winter wonderland with carousel horses and a giant, gilded birdcage holding a model who reminded me of a nightingale ready to sing a beautiful song; a vision filled with Venus Roses adorning every inch on the floor and wall; a dark, magical forest with glittery mushrooms and winding, golden vines; or butterfly mania where models subtlety mimicked the fluttering movement through their personification of butterflies.
One of my favorite parts from the collection is one that is no fantasy at all. Bendet created a design to empower women through her signature statement tees: the words “Strong Female Protagonist” sparkled through the black sequins on the contrasting hot pink jersey. The power pose of the model well-represented the statement and you could see a fiery boldness through her gaze.
What resonated with me was the messaging Bendet established through the creation of this collection. She empowered women with the idea they can be a feminist and sexy simultaneously. She sought out an approach different from previous collections by introducing jersey plunge necklines, high-slits on skirts, shorter hemlines on mini dresses and heavily-beaded, cropped tube tops.
Through her messaging, we still see that A+O girl we all love: the bold and daring one who isn’t afraid to go against the flow. “Be yourself. That is feminism to me,” said Stacey Bendet.
If that isn’t inspiring then I don’t know what is!