The runway finale at Christian Cota's Spring 2011 collection.
Cota has been nominated for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, which makes this collection something of a "moment" for the designer, and the upscale environs at the Atrium -- with its jungle-y walls and airy interior -- were an excellent choice of venue, if the Lincoln Center check-in folks weren't entirely sure where to send the crowds at first (it's across the street from the tents).
Backstage, Cota told us that he'd been mostly inspired by a trip to the Yucatan jungle, where he stayed at a surprisingly high-tech eco-cabin: The collection became about the juxtaposition of lightweight, airy fabrics with a bit of structure. The result was a series of pieces that really seemed to focus on movement and shapes that cut away from the body (trapeze silhouettes, columns) as opposed to some of the nipped waists and sharp tailoring that we've been seeing in other collections.
The highlights were the watercolor and feathery prints, as well as the gauzy, breezy skirts on some of his longer pieces. The metallic pieces seemed like misfires -- an homage, clearly, to the tech elements of the cabin -- after the satisfaction of the "bird-like" pieces. There were some dazzling dresses, in particular, that looked like hard work, including a Swarovski crystal-embellished column and a neutral dress with feather embroidery.