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NEW YORK—ICYMI: New York Fashion Week kicked off last week and will wrap up this Wednesday. Designers including Sergio Hudson, Christian Siriano, Proenza Schouler, and Brandon Maxwell returned to showcase their spring/summer 2024 collections.
But aside from the hottest new looks, when it comes to NYFW, the biggest trend we’ve noticed is the rise in sponsored shows and collaborations during the biannual event.
On Friday, Bombay Sapphire Gin and Siriano debuted the first-ever cocktail couture gown—inspired by the brand's blue-tinged bottle and Bombay French 75 cocktail—at the designer’s show at The Pierre hotel. The gown featured a sleek silhouette similar to the cocktail’s flute glass, chiffon fabric as a nod to the effervescence of the drink, and custom Bombay Sapphire gin-dyed accents (the gin is actually infused directly into the fabric). More from the cocktail couture collection—which is inspired by three classic drinks: gin and tonic, martini, and Collins—is set to be released in time for the holiday season.
“As a designer, I find endless excitement in exploring disruptive ways to construct garments and challenge myself creatively. Partnering with Bombay Sapphire for the 'Saw This, Made This' campaign [which kicked off last year with film director Baz Luhrmann] has allowed me to design a collection that transforms classic cocktail culture into fashion,” Siriano said in a release. “By continuing to explore my creative boundaries and find inspiration in the unexpected, in this case, the silhouette of a French 75 cocktail, I hope to inspire others to discover uncharted territories of their imagination.”
Back in February, other non-fashion companies like Pornhub, KitchenAid, Doritos, and Stella Artois all partnered with designers, incorporating their brand identities into collections—some in subtle ways, some a little more showy—with the goal of attracting the NYFW audience, including Gen Z consumers, while providing designers an opportunity (and the financial means) to bring their visions to life.
Brands activating during fashion week isn’t new, but this intimate type of integration is kind of like when Coke gets prime screen time during a TV show as opposed to simply footing the bill for a commercial.
For example, Christian Cowan's fall/winter 2023 show featured outfits with subtle triangle details—representing the designer’s partnership with Doritos. Of course, the snacks were also offered backstage.
“The color palette of all the collaboration pieces has been taken directly from the different flavors of the Doritos," Cowan told FoodSided. "From the sweet, tangy barbecue black to the nacho cheese oranges, they are all the main color points for this collaboration.” Some of the pieces, such as a hoodie with an orange triangular detail, were available for purchase online as well.
To celebrate its fifth annual Color of the Year (which was Hibiscus), KitchenAid hosted a fashion presentation at Iron23 in February. In collaboration with global creative director and designer Marta Del Rio, the event introduced a capsule collection of 12 avant-garde designs inspired by KitchenAid products and the chosen shade.
So why did an appliance manufacturer decide to host a fashion show? Known for its iconic colorful gadgets, KitchenAid wanted to inspire creatives of all fields by going from the cupboard to the catwalk. Senior director and head of production and studio for Whirlpool Corporation Otto Linwood said the company “has championed the power of color to fuel creativity since introducing the first stand mixer colors in 1955. The brand’s Color of the Year taps global trends to capture the current moment and inspire makers around the world—in the kitchen and beyond.” The looks included touches of chrome and brushed metal reminiscent of the kitchen tools that were also on display.
And earlier this year, Stella Artois once again partnered with New York-based fashion label LUAR and designer Raul Lopez who created looks inspired by the beer brand's famous chalice and that featured a shared logo of Stella Artois’ North Star and LUAR’s “L.” The models also sported custom-designed "Steluar" nails.
“Partnering with a designer like LUAR allowed us the opportunity to connect and resonate with our consumers through one of fashion’s biggest moments—New York Fashion Week,” explained Kevin Bell, head of Stella Artois US. “Our goals were to redefine access to the fashion industry and to New York Fashion Week, making it accessible to the local community and democratizing luxury.”
Stella and LUAR also hosted a pop-up in Brooklyn that was open to the public. Commemorative merchandise—including a chalice, hoodie, crew neck, muscle tee, and T-shirt—was available at the pop-up and online. Bell said it was designed as “a cohesive fashion week experience—both on and off the runway—to reach multiple audiences and fans of the brands.”
Although Bell wouldn’t comment on any of Stella's upcoming collaborations, he said “there’s still so much opportunity for the brand to insert itself throughout culture and entertainment.”