At right, a sketch of the Jen Kao Tzigane Bustier Gown. At left, the gown in motion on the runway.
If Jen Kao’s designs hint at the artistic and the architectural, it is not an accident. The LA-born, Kansas-raised designer moved to New York in 1999 to study art at NYU, and her interest in three-dimensional design led her to experiment with textiles. She debuted her collection in 2008, and has since garnered fans and accolades from every corner of the fashion and art worlds.
Summing up her line’s aesthetic in two words—“easy dramatics”—Jen Kao dresses and skirts mingle fluid draping with artfully constructed tailoring, especially evident in the current spring collection. In her runway show last September, Kao paraded her designs down a sandy catwalk, with a backstory that involved, according to Style.com, “girls wandering the desert in an altered state where they find the man of their dreams.” The looks do have a certain ease about them, but the layers of fabric have a circular complexity—it is impossible to tell where one ends and the other begins. It all plays together for a luxurious, passionate expression.
Jen Kao spring 2011 inspiration board, part 1.
Jen Kao spring 2011 inspiration board, part 2.