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Cynthia Rowley studied at the Art Institute of Chicago to become a painter, and now as a fashion designer, fabric is her canvas in pick-stitches like textured paint strokes, sculptures of neoprene and organza, and a painter’s free-spirited palette. As a brand, Cynthia Rowley believes that fashion should be an adventure, with movement and animation being at the core of most of her designs. In her most recent collection presented during NYFW FW23, Rowley paints outside the lines of what we typically expect to see from a fashion presentation. She chose to present an all-female comedy show at Sony Hall on Monday February 13, 2023 with an hour-long presentation of stand up acts all dressed in Cynthia Rowley.
Rowley shares, “I start each day with ten minutes of stand up. I’ve long said I wish fashion were funnier. Not necessarily the clothes, but the attitude.” There is a playfulness to her fashion in reflective chrome fabrics, sweeping organza florals, pastel feathers and swaying multi-colored paillettes. Most pieces are like a prism, catching the stage light and reflecting a shimmering kaleidoscopic palette. Her designs create an atmosphere that welcomes a womanhood of the bold and adventurous.
Each comedian was dressed in a look that best suited them in their voice and style, popping against the stage’s silver holographic curtain. Nikki Glaser stands confidently in a red neoprene two-piece set with a flared ruffle hem on the pants and cropped top. A fiery red palette suits her well as her comedy style is strikingly honest and open; Glaser often looks to destigmatize sex in her stand-up work. Arden Myrin also wears red in a neoprene mini dress with waist cutouts and a thick bow-tied waist. Myrin’s look is bold and sexy, yet charming and youthful, suited to her creatively intrepid and bright spirit. Later in the night, she is dressed in a black sheer “glitter tease dress.” Scuba and sheer fabrics are two of the trademarks of this collection. Host Esther Ku wears a translucent look with a palette of pastel paillettes in lavender, pink, and yellow. Ku is bright and peppy, and is even more resplendent in her look.
PASTEL PAILLETTE PALETTE
Most pieces are highly textured and sculptural, with Rosebud Baker’s look being one of the more prominent. She is dressed in a chrome and lavender ruffled organza flower top paired with flared silver vegan leather pants. Baker’s comedy style is witty, reflective, deadpan, and dark, making her well-suited for this look, especially as her floral tattoo compliments the blossoming organza. Our personal favorite look is Ego Nwodim’s blue neoprene tailored suit with chrome metallic bra and floral heels. Nwodim is an SNL cast member who is highly-skilled in improv and witty stand-up. Later in the night she wears a silky blue dress, a color well-suited to the way she opens up space in comedy, her sharp-intelligence, and playful silliness. Rachel Feinstein, Claudia Oshry, and Michelle Buteau all wear black outfits with intricate floral embellishments. Feinstein’s black and white striped top features gold floral decoration on the shoulders, Oshry wears a black two-piece set with bright blue, pink, and yellow flowers, and Buteau wears a similar palette of florals on a translucent gown.
The blossoming pattern on much of the pieces looks like millefleur tapestry art. When all women stand on stage together, the color palette almost looks like an Italian Renaissance painting come to life - like a modern version of Botticelli’s “Primavera” in its sheer lavender fabrics, floral backdrops, and pops of red. And while that painting reflects the spring, Rowley’s collection makes clear that color in fashion is seasonless.
Rowley says, “I see fashion and comedy serving women in the same way. If you can be funny, you can feel confident. If you love what you’re wearing you feel confident. And if you can have both, even better.” She encourages boundlessness, and choosing to present a comedy show is certainly a signal of how the brand and the women they dress will continue to push boundaries.
"The blossoming pattern on much of the pieces looks like millefleur tapestry art. When all women stand on stage together, the color palette almost looks like an Italian Renaissance painting come to life - like a modern version of Botticelli’s “Primavera” in its sheer lavender fabrics, floral backdrops, and pops of red. And while that painting reflects the spring, Rowley’s collection makes clear that color in fashion is seasonless."
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