Gen Art, the leading platform for emerging fashion designers, filmmakers, musicians and visual artists, kicked off New York Fashion Week on Thursday night, after a two-year-too-long hiatus.

Since 1995, Gen Art has defined artistic, cultural and social trends, and helped launch the careers of countless influential designers, such as Zac Posen and Phillip Lim. Despite its stellar reputation, in 2010, when corporate support waned in the wake of the recession, Gen Art was forced to shut down. But only a year after those doors closed, another one opened, and Gen Art was back on its feet! And now those well-heeled feet are once again strutting down the runway for New York Fashion Week, in the “New Garde Fashion Show”, featuring collections by rising designers Gemma Kahng, Samantha Pleet and sister-design-duo Lizzy and Darlene Okpo of William Okpo. Hosted by Entourage actress Emmanuelle Chriqui and accompanied by the booming beats of model/ DJ Harley Viera-Newton of Roc Nation, the rousing runway show and after-party also supported the RAISE Hope for Congo campaign under the Enough Project, for which all proceeds were donated.

The show itself was a fantastic medley of contrasting aesthetics. Gemma Kahng headlined in Renaissance inspired leather, lace and gold hardware, followed by Samantha Pleet’s ultra feminine collection of caped coats, florals and velvet, described by the designer as a revival of Romanticism. William Okpo, inspired by New York City public schools, closed the show with a funky collection of brightly colored jumpers, jackets and skirts in mixed plaids and neon.

The Gen Art show has always been one to look forward to for fresh faces in fashion and expectations of the unexpected. Back in the ring, but without skipping a beat, Gen Art has once again shown us exactly why it holds the title of taste arbiter of emerging talent.

Images Via Fashion Rising