Fashion / Style

The Most Instagrammable Show at Fashion Week — a Dallas Designer Continues to Set the Pace

Step Into Cafe Lela at Pier 64

BY // 09.13.19

NEW YORK — To stay relevant in the digital age, an increasing number of designers at New York Fashion Week have turned their runway shows into experiences, with large choirs, energetic singers, outrageous artists and modern dance performances in supper club, Broadway theater and garden party settings. And, oh yes, somewhere amid the hoopla, there’s the opportunity to glimpse the latest collections.

In the age of Instagram, the glitzy presentations attract instant attention and have a longer shelf life on social media channels and the designer’s website. But while a lot of fashion designers are just now coming around to the idea of an attention-getting runway show, Lela Rose got there first.

In previous seasons, the Dallas native has staged a full-scale dog show featuring dozens of canines, rented a historic wooden schooner-turned-oyster-bar on the Hudson River for a party featuring a ’70s band, and organized a New Orleans-style street parade with colorfully dressed models.

This time around, Rose staged the prettiest, brightest and most civilized show of fashion week.

She created a lovely outdoor restaurant, dubbed “Cafe Lela,” on the Hudson river waterfront at Pier 64. It provided a gorgeous setting for guests to take a moment out of the hectic week of running from show to show and sit for a few moments to soak in the atmosphere.

Invitees sat in groups of two at small round tables covered with crisp white tablecloths and laden with baguettes, croissants and other freshly baked breads, that lined a long sidewalk, where hundreds of rose petals were scattered to create a runway. The designer dubbed it her “yellow brick rose.” A three-piece band played light music as models strolled along the runway on the picture-perfect day.

While the atmosphere evoked the idea of an outdoor Paris cafe, Rose’s 2020 spring collection pays homage to New York, with images of the skyline from vintage picture postcards emblazoned on a pastel cape-back dress and pajama set, and a Central Park garden scene on the skirt of a sleeveless shirtdress.

Lela Rose spring 2020 collection at New York Fashion Week
Lela Rose takes her runway bow at New York Fashion Week. (Photo by Taylor Jewell)

The colorful collection also includes demure tea-length dresses in “blooming rose” patterns,  marigold yellow dresses with lace applique or ruffle detail, and a evening gown emblazoned with a large American rose on the front and back.

At times, Rose stretches the New York analogy a bit in describing a slinky navy and white crochet dress with a “carwash” hem as “a celebration of a city in motion.” But it’s among the collection’s most modern and interesting looks, along with a striped crepe “carwash”  gown with a hemline that also moves like the flaps of an automatic car wash.

For the sportier set, the designer showed some midriff-baring bralettes, paired with a skirt or slacks and jacket or windbreaker — just right for the body conscious woman who’d rather jog along the waterfront instead of watching a fashion show.

Part of the Special Series:

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