FashioNXT wrapped up Saturday night with two larger-than-life evening-wear presentations, by Walter Mendez and Michael Costello. The house was possibly the most packed I've seen it, and the air was thick with boozy excitement (seriously, some people get unbelievably shit-faced at these things). Apparently, the decision was made to try to squeeze every possible dollar out of prime seating ticket sales, because I was relegated to the second row. Note to organizers: STOP DOING THAT! Like this isn't some diva-type "don't you know who I am" thing, it's actually harder to see the details of the garments when you have to crane your neck to look around a bunch of front-row-occupying suburban basics, like the guy who kept jumping out of his seat to try to touch the models (ugh).

Anyway, Mendez showed first, with a series of red carpet-esque looks. His presentation was basically divided into several categories: First he show a series of dreamy white dresses, including a voluminous pleated gown, and a shorter, pixie-like number. A couple pieces were embroidered with blue and gold sequins, adding a bit of flash to the otherwise ethereal vibe.

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  • Jeff Wong

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These were followed by some vampy all-black looks, including a brilliantly re-imagined lbd with a metallic bodice and flared skirt. Elements like side-cutouts, up-to-there slits, and giant feather adornments added sex appeal and drama to several of these looks.

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Next, he showed some texturized bronze Grecian-style gowns that felt both classic and very inventive.

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He concluded with a series of striking turquoise numbers, which ranged from very sleek to heavily beaded and embroidered. These dresses were beautiful, but I felt like this part of the presentation could have used some editing. The more elaborate gowns started to all look too much alike after a while, and they sometimes veered into beauty pageant territory.

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Costello introduced his collection by explaining that it was meant to tell a story a girl who fell in love with a man who lived in the woods, and then after he broke her heart, burned the forrest down. There were some breathtaking architectural pieces, and beautiful textile designs - like a pale pink and blue floral print; and a deep blue and iridescent silver brocade. He did, however, include quite a few totally sheer, lace or sequined numbers, which honestly started to make me think, "Okay, we know, you dressed Beyonce in one of those!" Like that dress was gorgeous, and she looked like a goddess as always, but don't beat the concept to death. Also, some design elements - like giant puff sleeves on one piece, and a cape-and-ballgown pairing - felt a little cumbersome and dated.

While I would never want Costello to stop doing the head-turning statement fashion that he's known for, I would love to see him incorporate his point of view into some more day-to-day clothes too - maybe a few really elegant daytime looks, even a pair of pants or two. Interestingly, I thought some of the most striking looks he did were the slightly paired-down, more traditional gowns in colors like black and silver.

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