As I’m sure you are all aware that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month…a month where all things pink are highly marketed and a plethora of events are held to raise funds for awareness. I recently attended the “Fashionably Pink” event, held at the swank W Hotel in downtown Austin. It was held outdoors on the lavish pool deck and even though it was somewhat windy, the weather played nice. The inaugural event was put on by Fashionably Austin and Stiletto Stampede to benefit the new Seton Breast Cancer Center, that is scheduled to open June 2013. The following nineteen local designers showcased one creation (pink-of course) to show down the runway (and were available for online auction the next day): Ross Bennett – Ross Bennett Collection, Anslee Connell – Savannah Red, Paola Moore – Rare Trends, Csilla Somogyi – Csillawear, Theresa Kopecky – Tess Dress, Valeri Abrego-Liszewski – Jinxedaposed, Sarah Eileen, Amanda Yilmaz, Rick Gonyo, Jodi Schreiner, Dina Chavez, Ruth Waddy, Laisa Macias – LaLa, Ilonka Braun – Ilonka Designs, Isabella Rose, Lauren Polt – chicka-d, Regina Simone, Megan Pinto and Wanderlust Boutique. Everyone did an amazing job and $1,000 was raised (from door donations).
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!