No matter where you’re watching from, a great fashion show should leave you transported into another world, and in a 24 minute sweep, Lace By Tanaya’s second runway show, which features a collaboration with designer Nichole Lynel, effectively does just that.
Helmed by designer Tanaya Henry, the brand debuted the presentation Friday night in Los Angeles, with a few familiar faces such as Draya Michele and Tiana Parker taking the runway. The collection itself was simultaneously true to the brand’s DNA, offering new variations of its signature wearable jewelry styles, yet was a substantial push toward new territory, as it was the designer’s first time presenting ready-to-wear in the form of gowns, coats and cloaks.
“I couldn’t choose a theme, which is why we did three separate ones,” Henry tells ESSENCE. I wanted gowns, I wanted bright colors, and I wanted all the reflections with the crystals. I wanted to do something kind of weird with the bald cap and the alien look.” It was the latter, which held the opening slot of the show, that was particularly intriguing. Model Tiana Parker donned the first look: A crystal halter neck banda top, draped at the back, paired with a slide slit crystal tennis skirt. For the first third of the show, each model sashayed in updated renditions of the brand’s signature codes — including long sleeve tops, corsets, and fringed skirts — dressed in dark glam, flesh-toned caps, and blacked out eye contacts.
Then came an influx of color, a new but welcomed avenue for the brand which introduced chain-styles reminiscent of Henry’s crystal silhouettes in summery shades such as periwinkle, lime green, hot pink and tangerine orange, all against a Caribbean-inspired backdrop. Henry says she wanted to explore the concept years ago, but having the powered coating applied to the jewelry to perfection was no easy feat. “We actually had to paint a few parts ourselves, by hand,” she says.
The final portion of the compilation was reserved for the styles Henry designed alongside Lynel, and for perspective, it’s an understatement to say each garment would make anyone feel like royalty. “Nichole and I have been friends for a while now and I wanted to do gowns and incorporate crystals into the pieces,” Henry says. “She was the first person I thought of.” From a fully embellished coat, to a feather-trimmed babydoll cocktail dress, to the floor-length lace veil Draya donned at the close of the show, the selection was a far cry from the lockdown to night-out hybrid styles that have become customary on the runways in recent seasons.
At its surface, the show was a visual masterpiece, but it was the intrinsically size diverse cast that left a lasting message. “There are so many different pressures and expectations of what’s pretty and what should be and I feel like it’s bullshit,” Henry says. “I want everyone to love and appreciate the way they were made, the way they came here. I don’t want anyone to think they can’t wear our pieces.”