Award-winning Broadway costume designer and “Project Runway” finalist Emilio Sosa has no preference over costume or womenswear design — to him, the processes are virtually the same.
Perhaps that’s why his Fall 2012 ESOSA collection, which premiered Wednesday night at Alvin Ailey Studios in Midtown, was somehow subtly thespian — with just a hint of Sosa’s Broadway touch, it transported onlookers to another place.
The collection, titled “Urban Geisha,” was a bold display of piercing geisha reds and turquoise blues, “rooted in classic American sportswear silhouettes” with Japanese calligraphy-inspired designs. The idea came to Sosa during one fateful subway ride where, on a trek to visit family in the Bronx, he picked up a copy of Arthur Golden’s iconic novel Memoirs of a Geisha. So taken by the colorful imagery of geisha girls in 1930s Japan, he decided to update this concept for a contemporary urban setting.
And the results are stunning. Rather than parade his models in typical runway fashion, Sosa displayed them against one edge of the room’s glass periphery, where they stood for the duration of the event posing for cameras and onlookers. The outfits weren’t resoundingly Oriental, rather, they combined subtle Japanese print motifs — classic thorns and cherry blossoms — into sleek, lustrous silhouettes that grazed the body rather than clung to it, maintaining the elusive allure of a kimono while leaving behind its heavy, formal trappings. The models wore uniform footwear — a white sock/black platform sandal combination, which alluded to the traditional Japanese footwear worn by geisha known as geta, a type of wooden flip-flop on a blocky platform heel worn with toe-socks called tabi.
Sosa may not be able to choose between womenswear or costume design as his preferred craft, but by the looks of this collection, he may not have to. With a stunning array of looks fit for a stage starlet or urban fashionista, the ESOSA Fall 2012 collection combines the best of both worlds.