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.