Fast Company

A New York Designer Goes Renaissance

New York Fashion Week for Spring 2009 collections kicks off today, but the crew at the Shelly Steffee boutique in Manhattan's Meatpacking District got the party started early yesterday evening. With a champagne party featuring DJ MSG on the turntable, guests got a look at the new fall collection, titled "Couture Warrior."

Inspired by Queen Elizabeth I of England, the idea behind the new line is that everyday is a battle and full of new challenges, says Scarlett Baily, an in-house PR representative for Steffee. "This is the outfit to bring you day to night, weekday to weekend," she specifies. All items are intended to be reversible and able to be used in multiple outfits. Elizabeth inspired Steffee, Baily notes, because she was one of the first queens to go into battle with her men. And the couture part, she adds, was because Elizabeth always needed to be the best. (And in case one didn't pick up on the Tudor queen-inspired theme, Elizabeth: The Golden Age was being projected on to the wall.)

A few items from the collection include a leather-looking black, bonded cotton military short pea coat ($1380). There's also a silk charmeuse convertible top, which can be worn forwards or backwards, with ivory enamel beads reminiscent of armor ($690). To top it off, there's a woolly neck warmer inspired by chainmail.

As for the brand, Steffee plans to keep her boutique small as she prefers to keep a tactile feel with clients and the space. The designer often refers to the store as a "cultural salon," as they host their runway shows in-house, along with performances from time-to-time featuring different DJs and even poetry. While this event is definitely low-key compared to most of the events going on at the Bryant Park tents in the past, it was definitely more intimate, which is probably what the designer was shooting for.

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