“For my next number, I would like to return to the classics,” a voice intoned over the speakers at Sergio Hudson’s fall 2023 show. And return we did.
With a soundtrack featuring house music hits like Robin S’s “Show Me Love” and Crystal Waters’ “100% Pure Love,” a procession of models mainly wearing platform heels and top knots that overflowed into bouncy, free curls, Hudson took the audience for a spin through the 1990s.”I started with the music,” Hudson, who has been building his business for well over a decade but had a watershed Michelle Obama moment in 2021, tells ESSENCE before the show. “I remember going up I was listening to that — this was before Beyoncé put out [Renaissance] — as I was designing this collection, and it put me in the mind of Fran Drescher and this great graffiti artist that inspired me named Jason Naylor.”
As the story goes, Naylor spray painted a mural across the street from a “small, ratty” Los Angeles-based work room where Hudson had been working. On it, the artist, known for his uplifting phrases, had written: “Believe You Got This.” The words came at a crucially low point for Hudson, who vowed to one day do a collection, sourcing inspiration from Naylor’s work.
That inspiration turned into Hudson’s first artist collaboration. The designer, who recently did a collection for Target, worked with Naylor on a custom print. In the collection, it showed up as a front-knotted blouse and a couple of fun mini skirts and embroidered dresses.
“I’m a little bit nervous about it,” Hudson admits of the print, which was used sparingly in a range of primarily monochromatic looks — a signature for the brand. “He ended up putting my name on it, which I’ve always been against because I didn’t want to be that brand that has its name all over stuff, but he did it, and it’s beautiful, so I didn’t want to change it. So we leaned into it.”
Elsewhere, Hudson returned to the structured fare that he has largely made his name in: even in the audience, Sergio Hudson’s designs could be easily picked out with their bold, imposing padded shoulder lines that flatter a variety of silhouettes (like VIP’s Kimora Lee Simmons, Gossip Girl reboot’s Savannah Smith, and Sunny Hostin). Here, he offered them in a few day-glo belted blazers, as is his habit, in Drescher and Chanel-esque mini skirt suits, as well as in a sharp version of the Canadian tuxedo with a matching Brandon Blackwood bag.
The outing was flirty and youthful, the models flipping their hair and the pleats of mini skirts swishing around their thighs. And the audience was certainly along for the ride, clapping and responding to looks like a ruched lime-green leather dress. And while some editing could have made for a tighter, more impactful showing (to Hudson’s own concerns, while the allover graffiti print felt covetable, t-shirt options seemed unnecessary, as did some of the washed denim), the line’s potency was too infectious to be denied. A pair of slinky slip dresses felt like a breath of fresh air as they breezed down the runway, the hems fluttering to reveal that each was a tri-layered garment. This was modern American sportswear: unpretentious, easy pieces that could be worn right off the runway.
“I want to be there for everyone,” Hudson says. “I want everyone to know they can have a piece of Sergio Hudson, so this collection is a mix of that.”
See an excerpt of the collection below.