Tag - Austin Fashion Week

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Austin Fashion Week 2013 at La Zona Rosa
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Boudoir Queen Line Viewing Party at Wanderlust Boutique
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Austin Fashion Week at the Driskill- Day 3
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Austin Fashion Week at the Driskill- Day 2
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Austin Fashion Week at the Driskill- Day 1

Austin Fashion Week 2013 at La Zona Rosa

Austin’s fifth annual fashion week (AFW) this year consisted of three days of runway shows and a pop-up marketplace. The shows were held at La Zona Rosa- a music venue located in the Warehouse District of downtown Austin. Unfortunately, this year I was only able to attend one night of events…but that night culminated all the Austin designers that participated in NBC’s Fashion Star and Project Runway, plus some past AFW faves. Upon entering the venue, guests were able to browse a pop-up shop set up by Gilt City and shop the marketplace inside. Vendors this year included: my favorite Austin jewelry designer- Jeannie Vianney, Cynthia Bloom Jewelry, Crystal4U, Andrea Montgomery Designs, Cindy Schulze Jewelry and Hari Mari.

There were eight shows on the final and most-anticipated night of AFW runways and marketplace and it’s my pleasure to introduce them to you:

The first show consisted of whimsical, retro-inspired and fun looks that have been a huge hit in the city of Austin- Crowned Bird. Crowned Bird is the brainchild of Priscilla Barroso and was just recently launched in Fall of 2012 after a successful Kickstarter campaign. Priscilla likes of think of her brand as a cross between if Zooey Deschanel and Audrey Hepburn had a style child- it would be Crowned Bird. The brand is made entirely in Dallas using sustainable or deadstock materials that she finds throughout the world. Priscilla makes everything in limited quantities and takes pride knowing that the wearer will have comfort knowing that not everyone will be wearing the same thing. Priscilla further explains, “Crowned Bird is a trans-seasonal brand that can transcend beyond trends and continue to make a statement in any era, any country, and season. I wanted to make clothes that you can wear forever. It’s a brand that you will never find on the racks of Buffalo Exchange. And I’m proud of that.” Austin Fashion Week was her first runway show since being on NBC’s Fashion Star and was a very symbolic evening for her. She showcased looks like the ‘trout skirt’(which was a fan favorite), then transitioned to Spring and finally presented highlights from the Fall 2013 “Dream Pop” collection. I enjoyed seeing the whimsical novelty prints and bold colors. Even though I would love to have one of everything in my closet, I especially LOVED the plaid suit and the orange slice two piece ensemble (I mean who WOULDN’T want to wear orange slice printed pants or top?!)! The collection screamed Spring, hints of vintage influence and strong versatility and wearability that can be transitioned from season to season. If you want to own a piece of Crowned Bird history, I promise it won’t break the bank at prices ranging from $60 to $250.

The next show was Three07, a flirty and feminine brand that is based in Birmingham, Alabama. The brand officially launched in 2010 and was founded by April Moore, Melissa Grimes & Courtni Tyre-who all shared similar passions for fashion and southern values. According to April on becoming a team, “We each have our individual styles, but three07 is our outlet to create pieces that we otherwise would not have created on our own. Together we create an easy ‘look’ that many women can wear. Three heads are better than one!” Their Summer 2013 collection that they showcased during AFW was titled “Bohemian Romance,” in which flowy silhouettes, cute prints and crochet textures played a significant role to create an effortless and fresh vibe. They also threw in some white and orange looks from their “Fall Gameday” collection in honor of local UT fans. I loved the blue off-shoulder maxi dress and printed shorts and pants-which I think are a MUST in upcoming hot Summer months. This brand is also light on the wallet with prices ranging from $40 for tops and up to no more than $80 for dresses. For more information and to see what stores Three07 is sold, go to Three07.com or check out their online boutique at Obaz.com.

There was another southern-based brand in the house that evening- Pearl Southern Couture. The ‘proudly made in the USA’ brand was launched in 2008 by Amber Perley- who was inspired by the charm and culture of the deep south and wanted to create a line to convey that lifestyle. Amber explained that every collection tells a story and is inspired by a different southern city or person. Her inspiration for her Spring 2013 collection was candy, along with Bow Wow Wow’s 1982 hit “I Want Candy,”which was also featured in the Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette. After combining all those properties, she concluded that it would make for a great runway show…and it was. The song was catchy and upbeat, mixing with perky models in darling dresses, tops and shorts; flaunting sunglasses and giant lollipops. The brand is perfect for the gal wanting to look chic but doesn’t want to break the bank, with prices ranging from $50-230 retail. Also, catch Amber on Fashion Star!

I first saw Lisa Vian Hunter’s collection during AFW last year and have been a fan ever since. Lisa owns a boutique in Seattle and has her line manufactured here in the USA. She also appeared on Fashion Star during season one. Lisa’s Spring 2013 collection consisted of 50s and 60s inspired dresses, tops and skirts. Lisa scours the world (notably Belgium and Italy) for modern and fun fabrics to create beautiful and effortless clothing that women will want to wear season after season. My faves from the collection were the techno and green print ‘Ava’ dresses (inspired by 1958) and the plaid ‘Suzy’ dresses because they are chic and have a vintage and timeless silhouette. I applaud the Vian Hunter brand for its wearability and versatility for everyday living. Be sure to look out for her bridal collection that will be debuting later this year. Average price points for the collection range from $195-395. Check out VianHunter.com for additional information.

After the intermission, we had the pleasure of being introduced to RVN- a brand that is currently being sold locally at Young and Fabulous in the Hill Country Galleria. RVN was launched in 2011 by designer Ted Kim and is inspired by the creativity and pulsating art, music and fashion vibes of New York City. It is explained that RVN’s collections “are the street art to the backdrop of an urban landscape sizzling with creativity: where dreams are made, stars are born, and where rules are made to be broken.” I loved the flare dresses, especially the black/white striped one. I thought that the bodycon dresses were tasteful and the patterns were thoroughly executed to flatter the body. Prices range from $175-475 and you can find out more information on the RVN Facebook page.

The next Fashion Star designer I’m going to introduce is another Austin favorite- Ross Bennett. Bennett is very well-known in the Austin fashion scene and is also seen wearing a signature tailoring suit, gloves and bow tie. Upon observing the fashion scene during Austin Fashion Week, I just want to point out that AFW founder- Matt Swinney’s wife Kara looked stunning in a custom dress by Ross. The Ross Bennett Collection was launched in 2008 by Ross and his wife-Erin. Their main endeavor is to create classic, custom tailored garments that fit into the modern lifestyle, while also maintaining a Southern influence. As Bennett states, “As the business grows, my team and I are adamant about providing a personalized experience for each and every client. We believe clothing should be recognized as a piece of art, with each piece having its own story to tell. Providing our clients with classic, versatile sense of style that can be worn for decades we are building the next great American fashion empire, ‘getting things done, one stitch at a time.’” Ross’s AFW collection was titled, “The Classical Chaos” and was inspired by he and his wife’s fast-paced lifestyle. Ross breaks it down for LAFashionsnob, “The creative drive that as an artist I need to be able to hone into came from the juxtapositions of wanting a calm environment but having a “hustle and bustle” of a life. I drew comfort knowing that great designers like Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent created some of their best work when their lives were utterly turned up-side-down. I wanted to move away from the traditional Ross Bennett Collection look of pretty and everyday to a more sensuous and daring look.” The collection maintained a general cohesiveness, staying in tune with neutrals while adding bold highlights, such as red and gold. The story that was being conveyed was that of an individual going from the office to a lunch out with friends to a red carpet event in the evening. I am a fan the black/gold hi/low dress and the gold (very Studio 54-inspired in my opinion) strapless dress. Bennett strives to maintain a classic, yet youthful feel for his brand so that women a variety of ages {“forward enough for a college woman but conservative enough for a mom”} are able to wear it. Prices for the collection range from $300 for skirts for $3,000 for an evening gown. They also offer custom bridal gowns and one-of-a-kind pieces. Bennett is also working with Blue Avocado, designing their mens 2013 American Designer Series. That line will be available on Amazon.com soon. He is also a part of the annual Texas Bow Tie Day. For additional information and to shop the collection, go to RossBennettCollection.com.

After viewing her collection during SxSW, I was really excited to learn that Lilly Lorraine was showing during Austin Fashion Week. As I had viewed the same collection during SxSW, seeing it on the runway that evening just made it love it even more. Austin-based Lilly Lorraine was launched in March 2012 by Christi Craven during Style X (SxSW), where she received rave reviews for two garments that she designed and created a textile for, called BAMBLI. Craven explains that “this unique textile utilizes both the soft texture and breath-ability of bamboo, and the warmth of wool to make wonderfully comfortable and stylish winter ensembles.” The technique she used still has a patent pending and the name BAMBLI is in the process of being trademarked. The Fall 2013 collection is called “Rendezvous in the Moonlight” and is inspired by “the neutral tones and textures revealed by the moonlight upon the beauty of the earth’s natural architecture. Surprises revealed by the cast of a moonbeam or gust of wind reveals color, texture and flowing movement that awakening the sense of romance beyond the night’s shadows.” All I really have to say is that this blogger is a fan of everythinnggggg in the collection! Lilly Lorraine has since been worn on Grammy Winner Esperanza Spalding, The Bachelor’s Kacie Boguskie, singer Teresa Williams and Susan Walker. They have also been featured in numerous local and national publications. For more information and to pre-order garments (prices range from $150-1,200), please go to LillyLorraineinc.com.

The finale show for the evening was awarded to Daniel Esquivel-whom you may know from watching season 11 of Project Runway. Daniel’s passion for fashion started at an early age and has since blossomed into a burgeoning career, as he’s been designing Austin’s elite for several years now. His inspiration for the AFW collection came from when he was dancing to “Double Dutchess”- a fabulous group that is based in San Francisco. The collection was comprised of womenswear and a few menswear looks that were all about being happy and free. Esquivel has such a bubbly and sweet personality, which showed in some looks, but lacked in others. My favorite looks from the show were the voluminous black/white polka-dot gown, the yellow/black romper, the short red flare dress and the light pink/silver tiered flowy dress. I’m excited to see what Daniel has in store for the future, though I just hope it doesn’t involve a tee paired with a bikini. You can ‘fan’ Daniel on his Facebook Fan Page and stay up to date with any news and happenings.

Huge thanks to PomPR, the designers, models and the folks at Austin Fashion Week!

Boudoir Queen Line Viewing Party at Wanderlust Boutique

I braved the cold and headed out the Boudoir Queen line viewing at Wanderlust Boutique during the holidays. Now when I mean “braving the cold”, I mean taking off my warm coat before heading into the venue and only wearing my short-sleeved dress because a. the dress was my spur-of-the-moment wardrobe decision and it just fit too well to pass up and b. the coat did NOT match the wardrobe. I tell you, what we gals do in the name of fashion… But anyway, before I get too off-topic… The boutique was pretty crowded, but the area where we viewed the collection was the opposite. It was held in the gallery section of the boutique. I thoroughly enjoyed touching and seeing the collection up close (since I viewed it during Austin Fashion Week). Delicious sweets and macaroons were also served. The line’s designer- Dawn Younger-Smith was the star of the hour, signing autographs, taking pictures and mingling with guests. Lovely models graced us, dressed in ethereal Boudoir Queen and showcasing the brand’s newest headpieces. Dawn even got some of us local bloggers together to try on 20s-inspired dainty caps and gather for group photos (which are on the Boudoir Queen Facebook Page). It was a whimsical evening that left me having closet envy, as I’d just adore having some of the Boudoir Queen dresses hanging in my wardrobe, ready to be worn for the next party.

Huge thanks to: Wanderlust Boutique; Dawn and Mark Younger-Smith; models: Callisto, Sarah and Cali.

Austin Fashion Week at the Driskill- Day 3

The last day for AFW runway shows was ‘the show to end all shows,’ with the most designers on the runway and in the marketplace. In the marketplace were the following brands: Cindy Schulze Jewelry, Oscar & Anna, Eye on the Sparrow Designs, Raven+Lily and Crystal4U. I would love to take a moment to spotlight Raven+Lily. I heard about the company while still in LA, from the lovely Kristen of Style Wax Poetic. I thought it was perfect timing that I was now in Austin and they just happened to be participating in the marketplace during AFW. Raven+Lily is such an awesome brand. Not only are they sustainably eco-friendly and ultra-conscious, but they partner (and empower) with women artisans in Cambodia, Ethiopia and India- who have been victims of trafficking, shunned from society or suffer from HIV. The company also uses 100% of their profits to empower these women through design by employment with fair trade, sustainable income, launching new partnerships and funding healthcare and education in their communities. During the marketplace, I was able to check out the jewelry, clothing and lifestyle collections that are made from recycled bullets, hand-loomed cottons, naturally-dyed and other remnant materials. Some of my faves include: Oun Fold Over Clutch, Mulu Hand-Loomed Black & White Striped Infinity Scarf, Ferdoz Wooden Bangles (seen here, here and here), and mostly all of the necklaces (seen here). I really love this brand and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for them. For more information, please check out RavenandLily.com. And now, may I present the last designers of Austin Fashion Week at the Driskill:

First up was a rather delightful maternity line called Ashley Nicole Maternity. The San Antonio-based brand was founded by Jacqueline Carrau, a petite mom who was tired of the limited choices for maternity wear (while she was pregnant), and launched the line Fall 2011 while introducing the Spring 2012 collection. Her Spring/Summer 2013 collection was inspired by a mixture of tropical and resort looks, which were comprised of bold and soft colors. I adored the tops and dresses with a multi-colored tie-dye splash print and the brown and white top paired with red skinny pants. What’s also cool about the brand is that Jacqueline created the garments with pre and post-pregnancy in mind, as she explains, “I spoke to many working moms who felt the need for dresses they could wear to work that could be used during pregnancy, post pregnancy, and also for breastfeeding and pumping. I developed the dresses with the idea that they can be worn during and after pregnancy. The dresses can be cinched inside at the waist to give them a pre-pregnancy look. They can also be easily used for breastfeeding or pumping without having to remove the entire dress. I made sure to offer fun prints, and solid colors to offer buyers different options.” I love that I don’t have to pregnant in order to wear her chic line, as I’d love to get a pair of tie-dye splash leggings, dresses, etc. and of course, the brand is entirely made in the good ‘ole US of A! Prices range $15-50 wholesale and $30-100 retail. The line is being showcased at the California Market Center in LA, Dallas Market Center and Canada. Please check out ashleynicolematernity.com for more information, including where to buy and a list of sales reps. The line is also being sold online at Bloom Maternity, Sears and Amazon.

The next line that strode down the runway stirred up the audience (at least in the female sector) rather titillatingly. Gorgeous male models emerged, immersing us in the land of elegantly tailored menswear of Richardson, TX based Ken Tyler. In 2007, designer Kelvin Robertson was laid-off, which created some hardship. But, he used this to his advantage and launched his own showroom ranging from casual to formal menswear. The suiting and outerwear were impeccably tailored, as Kelvin made sure that attention to detail was enforced. The Ken Tyler look is classic but offers a Southern twist. For all you gentlemen reading this, head over to Karson’s Clothier in the Dallas-area and pick out a Ken Tyler original… or if you aren’t local, be sure to check out Karsonsclothier.com.

We women need quality basics in our lives… like a tee, tank or legging… I mean, where on Earth would we be without them? Enter Austin-based Herff Christiansen. We were engaged in a world of dark, simple neutral European-style separates, which being able to be layered or interchangeable. Each piece, inspired by the urban sprawl of Austin echoed the effortless, chic and laidback lifestyle of Central Texans and their beloved Capital. Be sure to check out more on Herff Christiansen when you need your next basic, yet chicfully functional outfit for the airport and such!

I would like to introduce the second menswear line of the night: Dallas-based League of Rebels. Now, of course there was plenty of swooning from the crowd, especially when five handsomely dressed men came out on the runway at once…. Finely chiseled models donning swanky suits paired with unexpected brown shoes. Basing their love for fashion, lifestyle and some fashion retail know-how, a group of old college pals launched League of Rebels in 2009. Their Spring/Summer 2013 collection that we viewed during AFW was a take on Old Brit style with emphasis on Italian textures. The line indubitably prides itself on quality, craftsmanship and fit and no doubt it shows. Prices for their collection range $592 to $1,350. If Don Draper was a character in this era, he would definitely be wearing League of Rebels (Janie Bryant- take note!) LOR is only available at Edge Boutique (Downtown Austin,TX). But be sure to to check out their website for more updates and such.

I would like to introduct Seattle, WA based line- Vian Hunter next. Designer and owner- Lisa Vian Hunter launched the line in 2006. For AFW, she showed some little black dresses that she’s been selling for six years, along with her Spring 2013 line- inspired by lovely fabrics she had found while traveling in Milan and Barcelona. Keeping her signature vintage-inspired (ranging from the 40s to the 60s) silhouettes, she updated the collection for spring to include bright colors and neons. I loved how the more subdued hues were styled with neon statement necklaces and patent heels. If you’re a fan of vintage, you’ll love Vian Hunter’s genteel, high-quality and ‘Made in the USA’ line! Check out more information on Lisa on www.VianHunter.com, including her stint on Fashion Star.

AFW was surely on a roll with featuring designers from “Fashion Star,” as the next designer- Sarah Parrott was another participant. Sarah started her company in 2011, after having won the ‘People’s Choice’ award at Charleston Fashion Week’s emerging designer competition and just biting the bullet and going after her lifelong dream. She then got selected to participate on “Fashion Star,” where she reached a broader audience that probably would’ve taken years to accomplish and had seven designs sold in H&M. The collection Parrott showcased during AFW was comprised of strong,finely tuned lines and mixing fabrics such as: silk, with some infusion of leather. I loved the black peplum tops, one of which was paired with an awesome pair of leather shorts. I also thought that the tuxedo pants with contrasting stripe going down the leg, chic blazer and peplum strapless dresses really stood out and gave the collection a sophisticated yet harmonious balance. Prices for the collection range from $100-350. Be sure to check out more information on the Sarah Parrott brand here.

Marietta, GA based- Jag Saint Joi was the last of the menswear lines to show that evening. The clothing definitely had an eclectic twist to ready-to-wear for men. There was a mix of color and print that hinted of a well composed man- one who lives for comfort yet strives to maintain a sense of culture. Jag Saint Joi was launched in 2010 and is bounded on the belief of creative ideas, design and culture. Designer Nzimiro Oputa also adds, “We speak through the expression of fabrics & details by creating classic elements with a timeless feel for an everyday comfort. Our desires are to be an extension to the culture and lifestyle we all live & love. We feel that things like passion need no validation to be relevant.” The theme for the AFW collection is an introduction to who Jag inspires to be every single day… confident. He was also inspired by the “traveling man,” as he goes on to explain, “I use this term literal and in every sense possible. “Travel: Journey through area; to go on journeys through, around, or within a particular area”. Wherever you go, go in style and be present.” Ok, I know that this is menswear, but I’d LOVE to rock Jag Saint Joi (especially the frayed hem shirt with purple pants and the shirt print shirt with vest and red pants…) Not only would I style it in a ‘women-friendly/stylish-blogger’ way, but I’d look fantastic and be comfortable wearing it. (Any thoughts, Nzimiro?) Prices for the Jag Saint Joi collection (whose must-have essentials would include: stars and polka, the everyday red checkered shirt/blue pants, frayed hem shirt, the striped tee and trench and the blazer piece) range from $70-100 for a shirt, pants from $68-88, blazers from $200-300 and outerwear starting at $200. Check out Jag Saint Joi here!

The last designer of the evening was Boynton Beach, FL based- Nikki Poulos. Nikki started her line back in May 2008 because she wanted to make things that she wanted to wear. She started off designing printed maxi dresses (can’t go wrong with maxis) and it immediately was a hit in Miami. In 2009, she launched her swimwear collection, which got picked up by Anthropologie. She too, had the amazing opportunity to be on “Fashion Star,” which helped A LOT as an independent designer; and gave her more exposure to a broader audience. During her stint on the show, she had brought thirty-five of her own designs to wear while on the show, which was a great marketing strategy that seemed to work, as she received an exceptional amount of positive feedback. So, fast-forward to 2012 and AFW… When the first ensemble hit the runway, I was like, ‘I have GOT to wear this!’. It was a lovely polka-dot button down top paired with high-waisted houndstooth print trousers. It was eye-catching and very glam. The rest of the collection was very print and structure-based and inspired by 1930/40s Hollywood icons. We saw loads of 1940s neck lines, keyholes and 1970s gypsy sleeves. She made almost the entire collection from jersey knits and thus, making it easy to wear and could go from the beach to dinner. The signature piece- a knee length dress with a keyhole neckline, named “The Lake” after actress Veronica Lake is also Nikki’s favorite and sums up the collection in her opinion. Nikki felt that AFW was another amazing opportunity and she wishes to thank all involved. It was such a great opportunity to be introduced to the Austin, TX market. Prices for the collection start at $175. As always, please check out NikkiPoulos.com for the latest information!

Huge Thanks to Matt Swinney, the designers, models, volunteers, Kristen of PomPR, hair and make-up by: Salon by Milk + Honey and FaceKandy.

Austin Fashion Week at the Driskill- Day 2

Austin Fashion Week day two, held at the Driskill Hotel featured more designers and was just as fun and eventful. Like the first night’s events, there were two intermissions, where guests could check out the marketplace designers. Day two’s designers were: ProjectNCY, Cynthia Bloom, Jeannie Vianney, Bombshell and Alondons. The designer that really caught my eye was local Austin jewelry designer- Jeannie Vianney. My eyes immediately zoomed in on an amazing antique gold lace cast collar necklace. Jeannie launched her first collection online in 2005 and hasn’t looked back since. She is known for her meticulous attention to detail when crafting her lace casts in either silver or gold plate. Check out her collection here! And now, may I present the designer showcase for AFW Day Two:

The first designer of the evening was the much anticipated Boudoir Queen line. Boudoir Queen launched in 1997 in Los Angeles and the its name emanates from a 1920s boudoir doll collection owned by designer Dawn Younger-Smith. Models in chic vintage-inspired garments strutted down the runway to mixed tunes from Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I fell in love with the soft mix of peter pan collars, lace, headdresses and socks and tights with little rhinestone detailing on them. Younger-Smith drew her inspiration from 1956 movie- Baby Doll by Tennessee Williams. That movie basically coined the term, ‘baby doll,’ for the short childish dresses or nightgowns that the main character- Baby Doll Meighan was known for. The stunning finale tea-stained pink dress was inspired by Blanche DuBois from Streetcar Named Desire. Dawn felt that by the end of putting the show together, the looks seemed to had taken on a Valley of the Dolls twist. From 1950s innocence to 1960s sultry femininity- Boudoir Queen’s ready-to-wear is sure to please every taste. Since the Boudoir Queen line is mainly one-of-a-kind, prices range from $175-475 for ready-to-wear and $675-1,200 for couture gowns. For more information, please check out the Boudoir Queen website and etsy.

The next line to invade the runway was something girls have dreamt of since they were five- their wedding dresses. Local designer Sarah Eileen brought that memory back to me as I watched her collection of bridal gowns flow gracefully down the runway. Although Sarah launched her company in 2007, she officially debuted her collection during AFW. The collection started out simple, but then gained momentum as I saw that each gown had its own unique personality, whether it be lace detailing on the back, 40s style button-down dramatic back detail or a pretty lace detachable shawl. The finale dress indeed was a showstopper, with an exaggerated full skirt and train and a sexy yet refined lace bodice. When the model got back to the beginning of the runway, she turned and just when we thought it was over, she dropped the full (and now detachable) skirt, revealing a shorter, yet still as gorgeous dress underneath. According to Sarah, “The Finale gown was inspired by brides inquiring for two separate gowns, one that represented a stunning dream wedding gown for the ceremony and on that she could dance and have a great time in at the reception. My idea was to design a transformer gown that was classy for the ceremony and fun for the reception.” From ‘Roaring Twenties’ to the ‘Fabulous Fifties’, the Sarah Eileen Bridal collection is sure to be the object of every bride-to-be’s affection for luscious gowns! For more information, please be sure to check out www.saraheileen.com.

Let’s transition to the next collection… where Steampunk meets Neo-Victorian in a collection titled “The Travels Of Lady Victoria” by San Antonio based label- HOUSE OF KRIMSON (who just launched this Spring). Creative Director Toni J. explains, “Styles [for the Spring 2013 collection] fall into two groups- ‘Aristocrat’ and ‘Time Traveler’. The ‘Aristocrat’ group is more Victorian in aesthetic, with elements like puffed and pleated sleeves, plaids, cinched waists, high necklines and structured shirting. The ‘Time Traveler’ group is modern but with small Victorian influences, muted tones and very body conscious.” I personally loved the blouses with Victorian silhouettes, the avant-garde high-neck collars and the ode to tartan. HOUSE OF KRIMSON not only keeps their designing and manufacturing here in the U.S., but their edgy brand is catered to a both younger and older clientele, as well as a wide range of sizes. “For example, the leggings and pants are mid-rise with a fuller hip and long inseam. The shirts are designed to accentuate the waistline and longer to cover the waistbands. I also incorporate a lot of stretch fabrics so the customer has better mobility and comfort. HOUSE OF KRIMSON is also one of the few boutique lines that is available in sizes two through eighteen. I don’t think fashionistas stop at size twelve and don’t see the logic in limiting the line to such a small size run,” Toni J. states. Prices for the collection range from $65-135 for shirting & bottoms, $125-275 for dresses and jackets, $150 and up for limited editions and leathers. Pieces are only available through pre-order only on the HOUSE OF KRIMSON website.

The next label I’m so excited to share with you literally coins the statement, “If you got, flaunt it!” The models for this presentation did just that… May I present- Savannah Red! Savannah Red launched in September 2009 and is a local Austin brand catered to plus-size women and designed by the lovely Anslee Connell. The clothing that was presented on the runway was cute, unique and really flattered the curvy figure. The theme for the Spring 2013 collection was titled “Native Swing” and drew aesthetics from the 1920s and the Native American culture. Anslee has always been interested in the 1920s and Native American style and she wanted to embrace her strong Cherokee heritage within the collection as well. Anslee (who is self-taught) is not afraid to be fearless and push boundaries when it comes to designing for plus-size women…and why should she be? Fashion, no matter what size you are, should be fun and uplifting! So not only does she design gorgeous flapper dresses, beautiful strapless mermaid gowns and flirty tops with fringe, but all the garments are made from eco-friendly materials. I have to admit, while I loved all the brands during AFW, Savannah Red sure took the cake when it comes to “the life of the party.” The models took their ‘fifteen minutes’ of fame and just let their smiles and personalities shine through and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing that. Along with the garments, the models also wore stunning jewelry, made by Anslee’s friend- Jillian Simmang of Simmang Design. Jillian did a major job with pairing adornments to the appropriate outfits. Prices for the “Native Swing” collection range from $300-2,000, and I’m sure if you ask nicely, Anslee might be able to do custom work as well. How about a dinosaur or cupcake print dress that’s custom-tailored to your body in lieu of the plain LBD? I’ll take mine in a strapless mermaid silhouette with a sweetheart neckline and gotta have a big pink satin bow in the back, please!

The next line is based in Lagos, Nigeria; but with one of the designers living locally. I actually had the opportunity to feature a few of my fascinators in their show (such a huge blessing- thank you ladies)! I would like to announce House of Victoria- designed by sisters: Esther, Elizabeth, Rosemary and Isioma. The brand is named House of Victoria after their two Grandmothers, who were both oddly enough, named Victoria. They were raised by strong women in a family where style was apart of their self-expression. House of Victoria launched in 2010, upon the requests of friends or random people whom they met that were wearing their designs. Their line mixes their wonderfully rich and colorful African (Benin) heritage with some European refinement. Through their dazzling and creative designs, they introduced African fabrics and style to the fashion industry outside of Nigeria. The collection they acquainted us with during AFW was considered their “Coming Out” event and was inspired by the fun-loving woman…the gal who is going about her daily routine but still wants to stand out from the norm. The ornate jewelry and coral accessories are drawn from the ceremonial dress of the Benin people of Nigeria. I drooled over the amazing colors and textures of the garments and lusted over this one particular dress made with tiered tulle and hues of pink with red paneling. I can’t wait to one day travel to Nigeria to experience the wonderful heritage and dress that these lovely ladies shared with us at The Driskill that evening. Their prices start at $200 and are only available at their flagship store in Lagos (25b Akwuzu St. Lekki Phase 1). But they are in the works getting their brand in the U.S. here soon. Stay tuned!

The last brand up of the evening was Rare Trends. It was founded by sisters- Paola Moore and Marina Silver, who hail from Argentina, but are now in Austin. The label is still a baby-having only been around for barely a year and was conceived on a flight to Montreal. Paola had written the business plan and shared it to her sister once the plane landed and the two built the brand based on their love for Argentina, the creative design process to their love of fashion and Austin. According to Paola, “Our slogan is our mantra, we believe women should wear art. For years we traveled the globe and noticed how fashion veered to mass manufacturing and fewer designing techniques. Each of our garments has a unique design process and they each tell a story. Our collections are bold, intelligent, architectural and full of movement. We create pieces by working with designers in Argentina who have incredible skill and listen to the needs of what women in America want. Really an artistic expression.” They actually had two collections go down the runway. The first collection featured Allo Martinez, an Argentinian designer they have been collaborating with. The first collection truly represented the ‘Allo woman’- sleek, sexy and sophisticated; and featured Fall/Winter pieces like overcoats, evening/cocktail gowns and suits. The ‘blue is the new black’ trend made quite an impression on the runway as well, as featured on a biker jacket, pants and several dresses. I loved the blue and red pleated mini-dresses and the got a kick out of the dresses that would be simple going down the runway, but then once the model turned, BAM… dramatic plunging back with a cross necklace. LOVED the finale “Dots”dress…a black number with metallic polka dot stamping in front and then plunging back with a row of polka dots cascading down the middle. The second runway show was Rare Trends and sticking true to their native Argentina, they included the inspirations of: leather, design, tango and elegance. The ‘Teardrop’ collection was inspired by the melancholy of the tango (which was played in the background as the models swayed down the runway) and could be witnessed on skirts, shirts and overcoats. There was no basic dress in this collection, as the designers conceptualized a dress with two-tone fabric and eye-catching raised sleeves. Metallic leather tops, alluring knit dresses with leather detail and skin-tight pencil skirts married glamour with ‘met my boyfriend and stole my Grandmother’s hat.’ The finale dress, named “Spirit of Art” was another fave of mine, with the tulle and floral cut-out detail. I also thought it was mighty clever to include a bouquet of paintbrushes. Prices for the collections range from $150-900. Check out RareTrends.com for more information!

Huge Thanks to Matt Swinney, the designers, models, volunteers, Kristen of PomPR, hair and make-up by: Aziz Salon and FaceKandy.

Austin Fashion Week at the Driskill- Day 1

I relocated to the Capital of Texas- Austin, just in time for their annual Austin Fashion Week. It was held at the historic (and haunted) Driskill Hotel. Determined to include Austin as a legitimate fashion city, founder Matt Swinney launched AFW in July of 2009, but didn’t add the Driskill events until 2011. This year’s fashion extravaganza promised to bring out fresh local talent, as well as designers from around the world. The first evening of AFW, we were introduced to five designers: Isabella Rose, Bobby K., Ashley Zaba, Tess Designs and Lisa Kaminski. There were two intermissions and during those intermissions, guests were able to browse the ‘marketplace,’ which included: Valentina Shoes, Over the Moon, Jahanna Martinez and booths which featured an interactive survey and little goodies from Google +/Zagat and Fiat USA.

I’d like to introduce you to Austin-based designer Isabella Rose, who was the first designer of the evening. The cute resort collection was chic and simple…though with two cool attributes: one, it’s for tweens (girls) and the designer is only ELEVEN! Young Isabella as always been an artist at heart, which began with painting at age three. That love of art, as well as color and texture, eventually progressed into fashion when she started experimenting with sewing. She launched her label Isabella Rose (named after her of course) just two years ago and from then on, has been designing, manufacturing and fabric sourcing so she could learn as much as she can. Her collection in the show was inspired by her art. She had just completed “Color Stories” that was a series of paintings where she tried to capture the spirit and personality of each portrait through color. That color palette was the inspiration behind her resort collection and she wanted girls her age to be able to mix ‘n match the colors to express themselves. The Fall collection was inspired by Isabella’s experimentation with figurative drawing using charcoal. Trying to emphasize how form can be contained within harder boundaries, she had a mix of flowy blouson tops with edgy faux leather pieces. We saw what we thought was a plain white shrug paired with a black dress with lacy neckline, but when the model turned, we saw a self-portrait of the designer on the back of the shrug. The original painting was done when Isabella was ten and stands around five feet tall. ” I wanted to incorporate my art into my fashion in a more direct way other than just inspiration,” Isabella explained. She also had one of her paintings printed on the silk chiffon scarves that the models were wearing on the runway. Isabella herself even proudly walked the runway, clad in a faux leather shift dress and statement necklace. She looked amazing and for an eleven year old, she has incredible talent. You can expect to see more a ready-to-wear and dress collection in the future. As Isabella adds, “I feel like my friends and I always have trouble finding dresses we like – they are either too grown up or too childish.” She will be participating in Dallas Fashions Night Out and having an installation of her current line and some artwork at Kristy Stubbs Gallery. She will also be having trunk shows in select cities throughout the rest of this year. For more information, check out isabellarosefashion.com.

Next up is eclectic designer-BOBBY K. From skull cut-out back detailing on a tee to a spicy color blocked body-con dress, BOBBY K. made a statement on the runway. The Gainesville, FL based brand was launched in 2005 by Bobby Kelley and just focused on accessories. In 2006, the brand then transitioned into mens and womens apparel. The collection we viewed during AFW was from his Fall 2012 collection. It is inspired by a newly found independence he had personally experienced and was guided by the latest Sleigh Bells album, “Reign of Terror.” Lots of spandex, mesh, color blocking, chiffon and knit indeed ‘reigned’ in this collection. I love the muted navy and plaids paired with bright accessories. According to Bobby, “I design for someone who is ‘downtown,’ they live a lot of life, they work, party and do it all over again. Very much so the ‘work hard, play hard’ mentality. I make a garment and the expectation is that whoever wears it will walk into a room, and everyone is like ‘bitch’….” Such is that with this edgy collection. I could imagine myself bursting into a room in the multi-colored body-con dress, the hand crocheted dress or the chiffon jumpsuit. To add more SHAZAM to your wardrobe, check out BOBBYK.com!

After the first intermission, we viewed a chic swimwear line by Ontario, Canada-based Ashley Zaba. I absolutely adore this swimwear collection, which had sort of a retro vibe to it. I loved the mixing of prints and colors and the fitted construction of the tops. The brand launched in 2008 with emphasis on contemporary womens wear, but also a strong awareness on swimwear. Ashley’s love of adventure, travel and photography has helped inspire the unique print mixing, colors and cuts that has ultimately become the label’s signature. This year at AFW was Zaba’s debut collection of swimwear and was influenced by the ocean in general, along with white sands and sun tans, as well as old world charm that flows into the streets of Cuba (where she plans to travel this winter). While she mixed the prints of the suites for the runway, each style comes with its coordinating color top and bottom. She just styled them separately on the runway to show the line’s versatility, but personally, I love (and would prefer to wear) the mix of color and prints. So along with a stand out customizable approach, Zaba’s label focuses on quality and fit, making sure the inner construction of padding delivers flattering silhouettes for all body types. Each swim item is sold separately, with tops ranging from $90-140 and bottoms ranging from $60-80. One pieces run around $180. She also has a small selection of cover-ups available for an average of $115. Ashley Zaba Swim will soon be available for purchase online beginning March 2013, with pre-orders on her website starting November/December 2012. Find out more information on Zaba at ashleyzaba.com!

Next, I would like to introduce another Austin-based brand, Tess Designs. I had the chance to briefly meet designer Theresa Kopecky after the event and her sweet and bubbly personality coincides with her collection of vintage-inspired girly printed dresses and tops and feminine separates. Kopecky’s Spring/Summer 2013 line was inspired by a road trip she had recently made through the Southern states-from New Orleans to Jacksonville. She re-imagined old world Southern charm and infused a little bit of modern silhouettes and voila, we saw her vision come alive during AFW! The silk cotton and linen separates, playful seersucker suits and handpainted silk dresses were simple, yet… had us envision the days of classic Americana, optimism and a longing for days of a monthly book club party with mint julep, sweet tea, scones and finger sandwiches. For example, actress Jaime King’s character in Hart of Dixie- Lemon Breeland would eat this collection up and fabulously pair a dainty floral print dress with one of her signature fascinators. Theresa also shared cocktail dresses from her Holiday 2012 collection, inspired by the lavish jewel-tones of the Arabian Nights. The collection was styled by Leonardo D’Almagro, with jewelry by Personal Adornments and sweet little fascinators by Austin-based Milli Starr. What’s also great about Tess Designs, is that it is manufactured here in Texas. The Spring/Summer 2013 collection will be available for purchase beginning February 2013. Prices for separates range from $65-90, $130-250 for the day dresses and $220-260 for the cocktail line. Check out tessdress.com for more information!

After the second and last intermission, we viewed the final collection- an eco-conscious swimwear line by Jacksonville, FL based Lisa Kaminski. This self-taught designer was born and raised on the sandy beaches on North Florida and made her first bikini at age fifteen. As I had mentioned before, her line is eco-friendly, having only using reclaimed hardware and found materials, while utilizing superb craftsmanship; as each suit is constructed with double fabric durability. Her 2012 collection that she showcased during AFW was inspired by a trip to Italy. According to Kaminski, ” I wanted to express that with my dramatic opera music intro of Pavarotti’s “Nessum Dorma” with looks: The colors Tangerine and Coral is very on trend! As well as Blue (Cobalt or Royal), Aquamarine, Pinks, Purple and White, colored animal prints, color blocking, and retro florals.” We also previewed eight designs from the 2013 collection, which included two mono-kinis in “Happiness” and “Shining Star” and a one-of-a-kind swimsuit inspired by a reclaimed Radiohead concert tee. The finale bikini, called “The Beagle” was designed for canine lovers and a portion of the proceeds go to the ASPCA. The model wearing the bikini walked the runway with ‘Nipper’ the beagle, who is a local hound that needs a loving home. Please email info@houndrescue.com for more information. The Lisa Kaminski brand is quite unique in that they are made in small quantities, artisan-inspired and made in Florida using only the best reclaimed fabrics, hardware and vintage pins. Her prices vary depending on how limited the design is or it’s an original one-of-a-kind: $79-359. Her suits are available online and at Red Boutique in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL. For more information, check out lisakaminski.com!

Huge Thanks to Matt Swinney, the designers, models, volunteers, Kristen of PomPR, hair and make-up by: Bella Salon and FaceKandy.

And that’s a wrap for day one of Austin Fashion Week. Stay tuned for day two….

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