Michael Kors closed his runway show with a performance by Barry Manilow, flanked by models Fran Summers and Bella Hadid. (Photo by JP Yim/Getty Images for Michael Kors)
Naeem Khan closed his runway show with appearances by three legendary Halstonettes: Karen Bjornson, Pat Cleveland, and Alva Chinn. (Photo by Naeem Khan)
Naeem Khan purple velvet one-shoulder gown with wrap skirt and gold fringe belt. (Photo by Naeem Khan)
Naeem Khan long-sleeve silver stretch sequin gown with deep V neck and striped charcoal lame cape. (Photo by Naeem Khan)
Naeem Khan black, gold, and silver deco beaded long sleeve dress. (Photo by Naeem Khan)
The Michael Kors Collection fall 2019 runway show paid homage to Studio 54. (Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for Michael Kors)
Model channels early Diana Ross in a purple sequined V-neck gown and ostrich jacket. (Photo by JP Yim/Getty Images for Michael Kors)
Model Sara Grace Wallerstedt walks the runway in a Michael Kors Collection metallic orange mini-dress and fur. (Photo by JP Yim/Getty Images for Michael Kors)
Model Kiki Willems walks the runway in a Michael Kors Collection belted floral dress and multi-color fur. (Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for Michael Kors)
Model Alton Mason channels the '70s disco era in a Michael Kors metallic print jacket. (Photo by JP Yim/Getty Images for Michael Kors)
Model Patti Hansen closes the Michael Kors runway show in a metallic jacket with wide lapels and matching pants. (Photo by JP Yim/Getty Images for Michael Kors)
Naeem Khan short sleeve animal print lame gown with gold beaded belt. (Photo by Naeem Khan)
Naeem Khan black embroidered pants, mosiac print blouse, multicolor feather shawl. (Photo by Naeem Khan)
Naeem Khan pink ostrich feather mini-dress with beaded spaghetti strap detail. (Photo by Naeem Khan)
Naeem Khan red fringe cap sleeve top with flared striped sequin pant. (Photo by Naeem Khan)
Naeem Khan long-sleeve gown with cobalt sequin detail. (Photo by Naeem Khan)
A model channels the '70s in a Michael Kors leather jacket with shearling trim, print nik nik shirt, denim jeans, belt with big buckle, and cross-body bag. (Photo by JP Yim/Getty Images for Michael Kors)
Model Lineisy Montero walks the runway in a Michael Kors blue sequined gown with triangle cutout at waist. (Photo by JP Yim/Getty Images for Michael Kors)
Model Adesuwa Aighewi walks the runway in a Michael Kors camouflage wrap blouse, checked pants and matching cap. (Photo by JP Yim/Getty Images for Michael Kors)
Michael Kors Studio 54 T-shirt, leather jacket with fur collar. (Photo by JP Yim/Getty Images for Michael Kors)
Michael Kors flora print dress with cutout and ostrich fur. (Photo by JP Yim/Getty Images for Michael Kors)
NEW YORK — Naeem Khan and Michael Kors were in their late teens when Studio 54 opened in 1977. But the legendary disco of debauchery left an indelible impression on the two fashion designers. Both centered their fall 2019 collections around the free-spirited attitudes of that long-ago era with a little help from special guest stars.
Kors turned a historic Wall Street building into a temporary disco with gold metallic streamers as 62-year-old model Patti Hansen walked the runway in a sparkly ’70s-style pantsuit and 75-year-old singer Barry Manilow performed his 1978 hit “Copacabana” at the end of the show.
Khan delighted onlookers with a surprise appearance from “Halstonettes” Pat Cleveland, Alva Chinn and Karen Bjornson in gorgeous stretch silver sequin evening gowns. The three models, now in their late sixties, were muses for the celebrated designer Roy Halston, who frequented Studio 54 until its closing in early 1980 with an entourage that included Khan, then a 19-year-old aspiring designer who had moved from India to work in Halston’s studio. (A new documentary on Halston that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival will appear on Amazon and CNN later this year.)
The experiences obviously remained embedded in Khan’s psyche as he created a glamorous collection that opened with a ready-to-party ensemble — sheer black embroidered sequin pants and mosaic print blouse topped off with a multi-colored feather shawl — and closed with a red carpet-ready silver stretch sequin gown and charcoal lame cape. Other looks made for tripping the night fantastic include a leopard-print lame gown and minidresses in pink feathers or heavily embellished jewels.
Khan also revealed a bit of his practical side with lots of separates, including embroidered vests, beaded jackets and sequined pants, so the savvy customer can mix and match styles or buy that one special something to enhance a look that’s already in her closet. He also retained vestiges of his homeland, with Indian embroideries and fringe with a bohemian flair — all showcased in front of a Taj Mahal-like backdrop.
Kors, who was 18 when Studio 54 opened, doubled down for his disco-themed fall collection, even buying the club’s trademark and featuring the glittery image on sleeveless sweater shirts, silk blouses, puffer coats, and a mini-dress with feather sleeves. It seemed appropriate that the designer also featured the disco hit “More, More, More (How Do You Like It?)” because he gave nostalgic customers, along with the young and the curious, plenty to dress up in.
Metallic mini-dresses with oversized faux-fur coats, a purple sequined gown with a plunging neckline that looked like something Diana Ross wore in her heyday, floral dresses, metallic patchwork coats, nik nik shirts with big collars, shiny suits with wide collars for men — it’s the ’70s all over again, with an occasional nod to ’80s Flashdance (think leg warmers and off-the-shoulder sweaters).
At times, the collection borders on costumey — it could outfit a season of the HBO series The Deuce — and it’s debatable that the luxe Kors clientele wants to relive that much of the past. But it sure is fun.