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Rafael Cennamo Spring 2013 Presentation — Inspired By Ancient Japan

There was no shortage of drama at the Rafael Cennamo Spring 2013 presentation during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York City, held on September 8th at The Box in Lincoln Center. The half Italian and half Venezuelan designer’s latest collection incorporated intricately ornate dresses — many influenced by Japanese culture, as manifested via the usage of origami-like folds, kimono bodices and sleeves, cherry blossom motifs, and imperial junhitoe-like trains on the more lavish evening gowns.

A mint green satin gazaar and silk tulle dress, shown in the fifth photo above, featured a kimono-like wrap-over bodice and wide elbow-length sleeves, with delicate pintucks adding a hint of structure to the bodice. The iridescent minty satin material, meanwhile, was draped in an asymmetrical manner along the skirt, with layers giving the piece volume and helping to achieve the bell-like shape. Black blossom embroidery and a cascading layer of sheer tulle flowing down to the floor completed the look. Similarly, a strapless stormy gray evening gown featured cherry pink blossom appliqués made of glistening pink beads and sequins covering the bodice and trickling down the skirt, which boasted a bustle-like silhouette with wide hips and deep pleats (as shown third from top). Another floor-length satin evening gown in this very moon mist gray shade featured a column-like construction, sleeveless bodice, ruching along the waistline, and cherry blossom appliqués long the waist. This gown was accompanied by an overcoat of sorts, with extreme ruching all over the wide long sleeves, cherry blossom appliqués replete with branch details adorning the fabric, and a back panel that extended all the way to the floor and then fanned out ever so slightly upon reaching the ground (as seen third below). Though interesting and theatrical, many of the pieces — among them a statuesque gown featuring layers of embroidered white chiffon yielding a kimono-like bodice and long bell-shaped sleeves, along with a voluminous, tiered, ruffled skirt made of silk sea foam jacquard and tulle — felt like they were limited to a stage arena, restricted  to a realm of performance art.

The more successful designs were wearable and refined but not devoid of melodrama, striking the perfect balance between these elements. A floor-length black gown, arguably the show-stopper in the collection, featured origami-inspired folds all along the structured strapless bodice, even creating a bit of a peplum, effect at the waist (as seen above, seventh from top). Other formidable pieces included a silver cocktail dress with origami folds at the skirt to create fin-like at the hips and glistening beads covering the entire bodice, giving it a bustier-like feel, the slim shoulders, and the sides of the skirt. While some pieces felt a bit over-designed, then, others hit the mark gloriously, incorporating the beadwork, draping, ruching, and embroidery techniques Cennamo has mastered in a manner that felt organic and conveyed a sense of synergy.

Check out more pieces from the collection below, along with detailed shots that focus on Cennamo’s intricate beadwork and fabric manipulation, close-ups of the gorgeous Jean-Michel Cazabat shoes worn by models, and close-ups of the beauty look achieved by the Bobbi Brown makeup team (which designed a Cabaret-meets-geisha look emphasizing lashes and brows) and Sally Hershberger teams.

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