PHOTOS: ANDREW TESS.
During the height of the U.S. Open, Becca McCharen, the Chromat designer and CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Finalist made a strong case for the convergence of fashion technology and wearability, showing her sports-themed collection in partnership with Intel at Milk Studios. “My background is in architecture,” McCharen says, “So, I expect clothing to work for you and empower you based on the functionality of your life—to understand who you are, where you are, the environment, and adapt and respond accordingly.”
Legendary ’90s supermodel Alek Wek opened the show with a brisk power walk, wearing black mesh tights with flowing dolphin shorts layered on top, athletic trainers, and a nondescript white sports bra. However, upon closer inspection and under dimmed house lights, it became apparent that Wek’s LED-lit bra was night-jog approved. The lights powered on and off based on her breathing patterns, adrenaline, and ventilation.
Between the first and last looks (the latter of which was a another respiratory-operated confection—this time 3-D printed carbon fiber in a swirl of screens placed within a slim sheath silhouette and finished with an oversized pair of wings), McCharen showed an array of sexy “ath-leisure” and swim/gym looks in red, white, and blue. Chromat’s cast of models—which included women of varying ages, races, shapes, and sizes—sported coordinating Americana-tinged beauty concepts with bold blue brows, and shimmering red under-eye shadows and liners. Mid-show, audience members, including Orange is the New Black‘s Lea DeLaria, rejoiced with glee for the diverse runway casting on display.
Backstage, between visits from CVFF judges Steven Kolb, Jenna Lyons, and Ken Downing, McCharen shared, “I love Serena Williams. My fiancé, who’s also a tennis player, and I are obsessed with Serena! She’s my lifetime hero and she’s the perfect embodiment of the Chromat woman: Strong, powerful, unapologetic.” Touché.