It may be the end of New York Fashion Week, but designers recently taking the helm at brands just made their debut.

Several brands showing today featured debut seasonal collections from new creative directors, including Christian Juul Nielsen for Hervé Léger and Francesco Fucci for Theory. Nielsen joined Hervé Léger after holding the roles of design director at Oscar de la Renta and senior designer womenswear at Christian Dior; he’s currently still creative director at womenswear brand Land of Distraction. Meanwhile, Fucci joins from The Row where he had been the creative director for five years.

Hervé Léger is hoping Nielsen will be able to infuse youth and invigoration into the brand after it changed ownership twice in 2017. It used to be part of BCBG Max Azria’s portfolio, but the struggling company sold the brand to Marquee Brands amid bankruptcy proceedings. Authentic Brands Group acquired Hervé Léger from Marquee Brands a few months later.

Christian Juul Nielsen drew much of his inspiration for his collection from the house’s original founder, Hervé Leroux. Throughout the collection, there are references to Leroux’s signature designs traits, such as body-con silhouettes, fringe and shine — but Nielsen was sure to incorporate elements more his speed, including draping, crop tops and bodysuits.

“I wanted the collection to feel rich and elevated. I wanted it to have that feeling that it was something special when you put it on,” Nielsen said during his NYFW presentation on Wednesday.

To prepare for his first collection, Nielsen spent hours combing through the brand’s archives, plus he said he found inspiration on a trip to Cuba and from his girlfriend. The collection, which featured shades of raspberry, alabaster and rose, was shown as a presentation at the NoMad Hotel, which is reminiscent of an intimate atelier.

“I wanted to go back to the real Hervé Léger, and I feel like that’s what I have done,” he said. “I was clear with what I wanted to say. I wanted it to be light and fresh and young.”

At Theory, Fucci evoked the spirit of both New York and Italy for his first major collection for the brand. (He debuted a smaller pre-spring collection in May.) The presentation was held in a former gallery space in Chelsea, and included old-fashioned televisions on the floor displaying images of waves, the sky and wheat to showcase Italian natural themes. Models walked around to a instrumental piano or Italian 1970s music.

Fucci said he wanted to focus on the working woman, with her “sharpness,” but also wanted to incorporate the ethereal slowness of an Italian summer. There were pinstripe suits and a marigold taffeta day dress, and a standout tangerine chiffon evening dress.

“My point of view is much more romantic and more emotional. I like to work on the preciseness of the garment and the structure of the fabric,” he said at the presentation. “It’s a celebration of the summer — the wedding, the First Communion. I wanted it to feel like a mini-movie.”

5 Questions With … Gemma Ward

You walked Proenza Schouler this week — your first show in years. Where have you been?
Australia, mostly, over the last five years — and being busy with two babies!

Why did you decide to walk Proenza, and how was walking the show?
I have known the Proenza boys since my first fashion week in 2004, which was only their third collection, I think — so we go way back. I’ve done a few of their shows, and we also went to the Met Ball together one year. It was awesome to see them all again and be a part of such a great lineup too. Not to mention the clothes!

What did you miss (and least) about modeling?
I mean, sometimes you work too hard, and you tire yourself out. I don’t miss falling asleep backstage from lack of sleep and feeling run-ragged. But I do really miss the people, and that sense of “uber-extra-major fashion” you experience sometimes. I’ve witnessed some incredible craftsmanship and art, and there are some memories I truly cherish.

How has the modeling industry changed in the last 10 years?
There are more cameras, so there’s more scrutiny. A lot more online stuff and social media, obviously, which wasn’t around when I was first working in the industry. It’s amazing how quickly it has all changed from being on the sets of film shoots to all of a sudden almost exclusively digital content. There is less physical paper: magazines, polaroids and film sheets. And I do see a lot more diversity, which is a big plus.

What’s your take on size inclusivity in the industry as it stands?
I think it’s pretty great right now! There are girls of all sizes and girls walking pregnant on the runway. I think there’s really been a return to a love of curves within the last decade, which has been really nice to see.

Overheard
“I’ve been here since 11:30, but that’s not too bad. Some people were here overnight.” —  Theory employee at today’s presentation, at 3:30 p.m.

Coverage
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Starred
As the shows wind down today, the parties will kick off. Tonight, Nylon Magazine is hosting a Rebel Fashion party at the Gramercy Park Hotel, while Messika will celebrate its partnership with Gigi Hadid at Milk Studios and Vanity Fair will celebrate its “Best Dressed” list. Savage x Fenty will also show this evening at 7:30 p.m.

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