Simon Doonan Takes the Pepsi Challenge at Fashion Week: Cola-Inspired Fashion? We Guess So

Revamped brand bankrolls showcase of new designers

One would think it was the Fourth of July from the amount of red, white and blue. The patriotic triumvirate was everywhere at the Diet Pepsi Style Studio Fashion Show at The Box at Lincoln Center. Coke lovers (The cola! We know it’s fashion week, so we’re being clear) beware: the star of last night’s show was the revamped diet soda, with some fashion thrown in on the side.

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The Diet Pepsi-sponsored show, presented by Simon Doonan (creative ambassador-at-large at Barneys), brought four regional designers to create looks on themes of Mr. Doonan’s devising, including “fierce hyena” safari prints, avant-garde workwear that he touted as inspired by Daphne Guinness and Tilda Swinton. (Also, we noticed the Diet Pepsi-inspired looks, which basically meant silver dresses.)

In the front row sat Debra Messing, Kristen Chenoweth, Kelly Rutherford, Angela Simmons, Mary-Kate Olsen, Tinsley Mortimer and Jonathan Adler.

Mr. Doonan opened the show with an air of exasperation, as the poor man professed to searching such lowly places as hostels (the horror!) and “old person homes” for the best young designers the fashion world could cough up. Perhaps instantly recognizable of the designers was Shirin Askari, an alum of Project Runway.

Jay Manuel of “America’s Next Top Model” arrived post-show and was immediately mobbed in a storm of camera flashes and clamoring voices, later posing on the catwalk for photos with his fans.

Diet Pepsi was ubiquitous in the event’s décor. Johnathan Adler’s red, white and blue retro pattern was everywhere, festooning the invitations, program and giant lamps in the studio space. Adler’s retro pattern extended to the smallest details, like long, plastic straws that balanced precariously in glasses of pinot grigio clutched by party-goers, or tumblers filled with the signature drinks of the night: Diet Pepsi mixed with rum or vanilla vodka (Um, ick!). Not to mention that the catwalk was lined by those skinny cans Sofia Vergara dances around with in those commercials.

As Mr. Doonan put it, Fashion Week is “vast, annoying, hilarious and fabulous at the same time. You just have to surrender to it.”

Though when asked what he hated about Fashion Week, he parried.

“I hate that there are so many shows that I can’t get to them all. I would want to go to everything, but that’s virtually impossible. It’s utterly overwhelming and completely insane but kind of fabulous as well.”

After the celebrities had split and the music was still blaring, off-duty models and party-goers took to the stage and runway, busting out model poses, or danced as they awkwardly sipped the Diet Pepsi concoctions with Adler’s tall straws, trying to keep the dwindling party alive before getting kicked out unceremoniously at 10pm.


Simon Doonan Takes the Pepsi Challenge at Fashion Week: Cola-Inspired Fashion? We Guess So