The vision thing: “That mix of casual and formal is really the modern way to dress,” said Mr. Benz, who paired floor-length cotton frocks with Christian Louboutin flats for his spring collection. “There is definitely a play between that and a careful ‘matchiness,’ which I also find modern. Like grown-up ‘Grrranimals’ or something.”
Label/Designer Phillip Lim, 34
Making his Marc: The current darling of the Council of Fashion Designers, which doles out the industry’s most coveted honors, Mr. Lim got a 2007 award for Emerging Talent in Women’s Wear and two nominations for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund. He opened his first store in SoHo this past summer with a socialite-studded party, and has helped drive the dress craze of recent years.
Show: Wednesday, Feb. 6, Bryant Park, Promenade, 5 p.m.
Sofias: Uptown socialites to downtown artists (oh, and Gossip Girl’s Blair Waldorf, of course). “The question is, who isn’t wearing Phillip Lim,” said Bergdorf Goodman senior women’s fashion director Roopal Patel.
The vision thing: Mr. Lim invokes Mr. Jacobs at his most wearable and accessible: flattering dresses, creative headgear, great jackets. “It just keeps getting better!” excitedly e-mailed Jennifer Mankins, owner of the Brooklyn-based boutique Bird, who has been buying Mr. Lim’s “3.1” line (named for the age he was when he started it) since 2005. “Each piece is sophisticated, beautiful, intricately detailed and strikes the perfect balance between trendy and timeless. There is also a pervasive element of humor, whimsy and ease in the collection that resonates with my youthful customers. Of all the developing talent out there today, I feel he really deserves the attention he gets.”
Label/Designers Rag & Bone, by Marcus Wainwright, 32, and David Neville, 31
Making their Marc: Also CFDA darlings, these British transplants staged a celeb-studded show last fall at Cipriani featuring actress Kate Bosworth, the former Sienna boy-toy Jamie Burke, Courtney Love and the rapper Nick Cannon in the front row. While Messrs. Wainwrig
ht and Neville started in men’s wear, they’ve expanded to “clothes for girls that guys think girls look good in,” Mr. Wainwright, focusing on casual basics and English tailoring.
Show: Friday, Feb. 1 , Cipriani, 110 East 42nd Street. “The rough inspiration is Blade Runner,” said Mr. Wainwright. “I don’t know that a lot of other people have come up with that idea. … We just love that very dated idea of what the future might be like. The clothes are very 40’s, some with a lot of hair and makeup. … As designers, we borrow strongly from the past while trying to remain contemporary. … It’s dark, gloomy. It’s moody.”
Sofias: “It’s not something we do for Paris Hilton,” Mr. Wainwright said, striking an off-Marc note. (Mr. Jacobs seems to adore slightly tainted celebs like Winona Ryder and Posh Spice.) “Something we maybe do for Kate Bosworth. She doesn’t try hard to look great, but because of that she does look great.” Mr. Neville, meanwhile, is married to the well-known makeup artist Gucci Westman. “We both have American wives, and we wanted to make clothes for them,” Mr. Wainwright said.
The vision thing: “We try and have sweatshirts, and we also have cashmere sweaters. … We used to have trouble finding other brands we resonated with,” Mr. Wainwright said. “But now that’s getting easier. We’re all trying in some way to be the next Marc.”