Backstage with Chris Benz

On a sweltering afternoon at Lincoln Center, Chris Benz quietly paced Avery Fisher Hall, meticulously undoing the hems of the Tracy Turnblad-coiffed models to make sure that everything was perfectly imperfect. After all, this was about the contrast of dusty Grey Gardens glamour with psychedelic neo-grunge. From its Kelly-green sequin palazzo pants under billowing mint tunics to clashing ‘70s-style prints with tie-dye high-top sneakers, the collection summoned visions of a modern-day Miss Havisham who happens to be a Dead Head.

No hot young designer is complete without his clan of young Hollywood friends. Indeed, a slew of twenty-something starlets—Jordin Sparks, Eva Amurri, Kelly Osbourne—mingled and sipped Tang-colored cocktails with Benz, who looked a little like an NYU student, with his New Balance sneakers, vintage tee and pink hair. We caught up with the Chelsea resident on his fascination with warm weather, his love of Warhol Superstars and how he relaxes during Fashion Week…

What was your inspiration this season?
It was about all those Warhol Superstars escaping to Coney Island. We had insane weather and record-setting temperatures in the city over the past summer, so I was inspired by my favorite, crazy hot summer nights in the city.

Did you have specific Superstar muses in mind?
Candy Darling was always camera-ready for her close up, which I love.

What is chic right now?
I love a long blouse with a short jacket or with a really full pant. Obviously, mixed prints are still really important to me. I like finding something in the same color story. This year it was all about these insane colors like turquoise, orange, and acid green.

What is glamour to you?
When you’re dressing up and want to feel glamorous, the hair has to be fully done. But I love contrasts. There’s something totally chic about having big hair and a beautiful gown but then wearing a flat shoe.

Do you have any show day rituals?
This morning I went to Pastis and had an iced coffee. Everything was already up here so I kept stopping into all these local places on my way from my apartment in Chelsea to the studio.

So no pre-presentation jitters?
No, I roll with the punches.

What do you attribute that to?
Before the show I went to a pet store and played with some puppies.

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