NEW YORK – To a screeching party soundtrack 102 floors up the Freedom Tower on hallowed 9/11 ground, British wunderkind Christian Cowan helped open New York Fashion Week on Friday night with a riot of sequins, feathers and little T-shirts of love to the city he now calls home.
The 25-year-old designer who first put clothes on Lady Gaga's back while still a teenager in fashion school married Hollywood with Gen Z TikTok culture — and the vibes of Lower East Side club kids with Upper East Side ladies who lunch. He set out this time around to honor New York as the city wakes up amid a pandemic with loosened restrictions and the hope of a brighter future.
“This just seemed like such a symbol of New York's power and resilience,” Cowan said of the towering One World Trade Center, where he invited guests to the observatory for sweeping night views of the city and the Hudson River. “I moved to New York five years ago but ... I always felt like a New Yorker before I even got here.”
Cowan rolled out a variety of evening sparklers, day looks and minis done in Valentine's Day red. There was a slinky show of black and a silvery party mini adorned with flat sequins of varying sizes. He went with a deep purple for several creations and lavender for others worthy of a night out, including an embellished body hugger with one bulbous shoulder.
Feathers in pink adorned sleeves and bandeau tops, and trains trailed behind some of his models as they camped it up for the cameras.
“It's about maximalism,” he told The Associated Press. “More is more.”
Lady Gaga served up Cowan's coming out when she wore one of his huge hats and matching sparkly pink pantsuits in 2014. An exaggerated black-and-white check dress was plucked by Cardi B for the cover of her debut album, “Invasion of Privacy.” Miley Cyrus wore a sheer white pants and top combo adorned with little red hearts. His friend Lil Nas X brought him along to the 2019 MTV VMA awards after Cowan dressed him in a ruffle shirt and sequin silver suit with cowboy boots to match.
Candace Bushnell attended his sky-high show, which Cowan touts as one of the highest fashion shows ever held. Would she go for his sensible black-and-white tea-length stripe dress with feathers at the hem? Or maybe his high-neck mermaid look in blush with feathers from the thigh down.
“Christian is high-octane glamour,” Bushnell said, dressed in one of his shiny creations. “It's what people want to wear when they're out, and everybody wants to go out now.”
Perhaps another of his guests, Dorinda Medley of "The Real Housewives of New York,” would don the flowing, long-sleeve swirl of white and pink he showed in another dress.
The goal, always, is to bring the party into an outfit.
“It's about just having a lot of fun,” Cowan said.