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Austin Fashion Week 2013 at La Zona Rosa
Austin Fashion Week at the Driskill- Day 3

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!

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.

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