The bougainvillea ceiling was something of a giveaway, but the flamenco guitar music and castanet sounds confirmed Naeem Khan's latin inspiration for his Fall 2016 collection, and what an inspiration it was. No need for fuelling the audience with the offering of tequila on ice - he had us in the palm of his hands with the sheer beauty from the start.
Opening with an embroidered organza hooded cape over high waisted shorts, Khan's models were like latter-day Frida Kahlos - hair braided, lips red, with oversized floral crowns, mantilla-like veils and raffia-edged fan shaped earrings.
Silver and gold floral embroidered lace featured heavily, while pearl embellishments literally hung in clusters from both a slinky organza gown and an almost sundress-style embroidered tiered tulle gown with spaghetti straps.
The collection seemed to get more and more beautiful with each dress - an ostrich feather-trimmed highly embellished mini, a crystal edged, bell-sleeved organza kaftan, a raffia lace ballgown…
Fringing and pleated tulle were textures that gave modernity to simpler silhouettes and a voluminous snow white silk gazar ballgown with folded bateau neck - so light it seemed to float - was topped with a cathedral length veil, heavily hand-embroidered with an almost paisley tattoo.
The final three dresses were utterly sigh-worthy in their beauty and use of painterly colours - a skin-tight pink floral beaded lace long-sleeved dress with a matching veil, a gazaar ballgown of pale carnation pink with a matador jacket-style floral embroidered square-necked corset and the finale dress: a gold hand-painted tulle ballgown with matching gloves and a towering gold cathedral spire headpiece.
In the audience, sitting directly opposite me, was fashion Icon and New York grand dame Iris Apfel who, with hands clasped in delight, was utterly transfixed by each and every exit in the show - as were the rest of us. This was a show that was like the epitome of a latin love affair: tempestuous, dramatic, passionate and heart-rendingly beautiful.
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