NYFW Day 4: William Tempest's siren call

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British wunderkind William Tempest voyaged across the pond to present his spring 2011 collection at New York Fashion Week, picking up some aquatic inspiration along the way. The collection was shown in the Box early Monday morning, and Tempest himself — petite in stature and boyish in appearance (he’s only 24 and looks even younger) — earnestly ambled the space, eager to share his exotically beautifully “Sirens’ Song” collection.

Among his inspirations, Tempest cited the mystical creatures of the sea and the dreamy paintings of Pre-Raphaelite artists Herbert James Draper and John William Waterhouse. Models were perched like statues on individual pedestals and recalled birds of paradise in exotic shades of coral, raspberry, and lemon. Short, asymmetrical hemlines fluttered beguilingly, like the leaves of an underwater plant, and the draping on an orange silk crepe jumpsuit mimicked rippling water down a thigh. Conch and clam shells were translated into rigid, architectural skirts and origami-folded necklines made of sandy pink and soft gray silk organdy. Defined silhouettes were frequently juxtaposed with frothy, flowing fabrics.

A covetable series of floor-sweeping gowns featured romantic Grecian draping that fell diagonally from shoulder to just below the opposite breast, revealing the structured bustier beneath, and a nude corset dress was sheathed in a translucent ruffle that spiraled down the body. The young Tempest conjured up a collection as captivating as sirens, as enchanted as mermaids — and as likely to be seen on the red carpet as that of the most seasoned designers’.

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