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NYFW Spring 2013: Stacey Bendet On What We Can Learn From the '50s

The crowd at the Alice + Olivia presentation yesterday evening showed no signs of mid-fashion week fatigue. Perhaps this can partially be credited to the event's mood-boosting refreshments—citrus jello shots and Magnum ice cream bars—but I think the clothes were responsible, too.

Every piece in this collection is the type of colorful, spangled thing that one wears on a jubilant occasion. There are full eyelet skirts in shades of emerald, Tiffany blue jackets with delicate daisy clasps,  and gold sequined dresses. And while I didn't spot a single all black look, one beautiful, billowing red flowered gown stands out in my mind.

Also adding to the celebratory mood was the designer herself, Stacey Bendet, who I found masterfully working the completely packed room. Catching her for a brief moment between warm wishes from friends, I took the opportunity to inquire about her cheerful spring line and NYFW experience.

So I'm getting a strong retro vibe here. Was there one particular fashion era that inspired you?
It's supposed to be this modern reflection on the '50s. So, the theme of the show is "When one door shuts, another door opens: The American Dream." Each scene here represents a different element of the 1950s. It's because I feel like there's this moment now where we need a return to the days of optimism. The days when people were a little bit less cynical. When they felt really good about being American—and that was the concept of the show.

The colors were primarily based off an artist from the '50s named Ilya Bolotowsky. He was a painter, his wife was an artist, too. He mixed colors so beautifully—softer hues, like coral, light blue, a light yellow, a muted pink. So that was where my palette came from.

I can see that. I feel like Betty Draper would wear a lot of these outfits.
Yeah! It's like a late '50s moment—but in a modern way! Like obviously you see a lot of corsets, full skirts and embroidery. But it mixes with all the more modern, signature Alice + Olivia sexiness.

I've always associated Alice + Olivia with fun party dresses. Does that match your personal style or are you more of a pants girl?
Well, I'm SUCH a pant girl. But I think when we show the collection—because we make every pant already—it's more fun to show things that inspire a girl to dress up. I don't need to show sportswear. It's more fun to show things that will make you go, "Oh my god, I can't wait to put that on!"

So...NYFW is half over and we're all mainly functioning on caffeine. What beverage do you rely on to keep you going?
I am a green tea addict. And every once and a while a Coffee Bean ice blended doesn't hurt!

And, now that you've had your show, what will you first real, sit-down-and-enjoy-it meal be?
I am DYING for a sit down Nobu sushi! I have been eating on the run for weeks! Our offices are right near One Lucky Duck* and I'm always like, "Just get me something there!"

Click through the slideshow below to see some of my favorite looks from the collection.

*See, I told you guys! One Lucky Duck is the place to be. Just ask Lauren, she's into it, too.

photo: WWD/Kyle Ericksen