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It’s Coco & Crème’s inaugural year, and it was nothing short of amazing to receive invites to view the spring collections of our favorite designers of color. This New York Fashion Week was particularly special. It’s the season’s first year at the prestigious Lincoln Center, and it was an impressive slate of Black designers showing their well sewn garments. Not to mention, loads of Black breakthrough models, like London’s Leomie Anderson, leaving their footprints on the runways.

Coco went from the Lincoln Center, to Grand Central Station, to the very studio of the legendary Stephen Burrows, lending our stern sartorial eye to the trends and prominent looks-to-come for spring and summer 2011.

The Vessel by Lois, Laura Smalls, Rachel Roy, LaQuan Smith, and Stephen Burrows, presented fascinating collections, weaving prints, nuances of pop color, and historic detailing.

Check our thoughts on these hardworking designers!

The Vessel by Lois

Former model Lois Samuel presented her second spring collection at the historic Grand Central Station. The Jamaican native was informed by “The Migration Series” from influential painter Jacob Lawrence. Samuels infused her collection with Lawrence’s use of bold color, coupling this with her growing signature of understated minimalism. In her introductory spring collection, Samuels leaned on muted offerings still using her uniform cuts and patterns. But this year, it was all about the audacity of shock color against traditional silhouettes. And we’re in love with these gray knee-highs with that streaming line of neon.

Laura Smalls

We don’t know if it was Nina Simone’s “I Put A Spell On You” wailing through speakers, but Laura Smalls’ sophomore spring collection had us in a complete trance. We sat front row at the Plaza Hotel next to the brilliant stylist Memsor Kamarake and the phenomenal Desiree Rogers to witness one of the most comprehensive and flattering collections we have ever seen. Laura Smalls was inspired by tea time and worldly travel. The collection offered a series of cocktail dresses, easy trousers, and a closing gown that made our mouths drop, and earned a sporadic yell from an impressed Russell Simmons. Laura Smalls is increasingly becoming the go-to for the coveted society “it” dress, whether it’s your graduation gown, engagement party, or an afternoon sit for jasmine tea and macaroons at Paris’ Laduree.

Rachel Roy

The thing we love about Rachel Roy is that she designs what she loves. When you view a Rachel Roy show, you’re witnessing work that comes from the heart. The Coco girls are suckas for classic American style, and Rachel Roy is gunning for Donna Karen’s spot. But yet, in her own way, she offers subtly, the surprise of color mixing, and shoes to live for! For this spring’s collection, Rachel went for exotic prints and brave solids. Parts of the collection were almost thrifty, the kind of looks a savant vintage collector can appreciate. Rachel’s line of trench coats were versatile and chic, giving you wraps for any occasion. We literally wanted everything!

LaQuan Smith

20-year-old designer prodigy LaQuan Smith’s show was easily the most anticipated show, and the hardest to get into. The new designer presented his spring collection at the Peninsula Hotel Gramercy Room. The room was saturated with industry insiders like Harriette Cole, Andre Leon Talley, and the sexy Common whose very appearance made it hard for us to keep our cool. Smith’s “A Story Book Path” evoked 18th century France, Marie Antoinette, and the cult of new age aristocracy. Before the show began, we wondered where the prototypical “front row” starlets were. Before long we caught the hint, the stars were Smith’s models. Cassie, Deborah Cox, and none other than Serena Williams, entered the room donning the designer’s latest couture. Smith offered impeccable craftsmanship in looks that weren’t a significant departure from his last spring collection. The designer is said to be inspired by Balenciaga, and the influence is clear. Hair and makeup were on point, with gilded lips and nail art that could rival any hood salon. It was indeed a spectacle.

Stephen Burrows

The great Stephen Burrows spring presentation was all about the garments. There was no crafty seating chart, and not one celebutante in the room. And we dug every bit of it! Presented at his midtown studio, Burrows’ spring offering was inspired by New York’s Times Square and the district’s lights. The inspiration was transparently manifested in the prints—electric and daring. The wearable looks will take you from the office, the after-work event, and on holiday to the islands. We couldn’t stop swaying our bodies with the music, the presentation’s soundtrack swelled with Stevie Wonder and George Michael. It was probably our favorite of all the shows. Some people lose their minds over Kanye in the front row, we froze over the entrance of Robin Givhan. After nearly 40 years, the legendary designer has nothing to prove. His looks were easy, realistic, and uncompromisingly fabulous.

Photos: Style.com/Artxdoesitagain/Fashionandrunway/C&C Staff photographer

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