Sunday, September 28, 2014

High on style: A youthquake at Tampa Bay Fashion Week

Posted By on Sun, Sep 28, 2014 at 6:30 PM

  • Brian James Photography
  • Katarzyna Zuzak.

If politics and local fashion have anything in common, it’s the Hilton Downtown Tampa. That’s where President Obama slept last week before his visit to MacDill, and it’s where Tampa Bay Fashion Week took center stage the following night.
  • Anne Phillips Photograpjy
  • Chavon Shree.

If Tuesday was marked by a heightened level of security at the hotel, Wednesday night’s runway show was preceded by a heightened level of anticipation. A new crop of designers showed their collections, including Desiree Marie Design; Kalaxpress by Sumita Bhojwani, which walked like a celebration, complete with vivid hues and a pretty floral print; and Arkansas’ Chavon Shree, who presented one of my favorite looks of the night. As if the shape of the pants and the perfect purple-and-yellow color combination weren’t enough, those WONDERFUL pockets showed up! (I’m saying this in my best Diana Vreeland.)

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

High on Style: Tampa Bay Fashion Week preview

Posted By on Thu, Sep 11, 2014 at 11:03 AM

Designers in this year’s lineup include KalaXpress by Sumita Bhojwani, who created the look shown here.
  • Designers in this year’s lineup include KalaXpress by Sumita Bhojwani, who created the look shown here.

If the Emmys can switch from Sunday to Monday, Tampa Bay Fashion Week can host its runway show on a Wednesday — Wednesday, Sept. 17, to be exact. Perhaps it’s part of the event’s seven-year itch. In any case, this year’s schedule resembles, in theory, a pineapple upside-down cake, with the most delicious part (the designer spring/summer 2015 collection runway presentation) up first and wrapping with the little morsels you just love to gobble up at Kid Couture.

Nine designers, including Crystal Hefner (yes, that Hefner), a bunch of new faces and a handful of student designers are participating this year. Plus, there are some new events on tap, too. See the full schedule and list of designers online at

Nancy Vaughn, principal of White Book Agency and executive producer of Tampa Bay Fashion Week, fills us in on the goods…

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Friday, August 29, 2014

Ask the Locals: Rhonda Shear, lingerie mogul

Posted By on Fri, Aug 29, 2014 at 6:01 PM

  • Photo by Heidi Kurpiela

Rhonda Shear is the CEO of Shear Enterprises, a multi-million-dollar lingerie company that gave rise to underwire’s worst enemy: the Ahh Bra.

Shear, a comedian, actress and former Miss Louisiana, hatched the business 11 years ago out of her Los Angeles apartment with her high school sweetheart Van Fagan, whom she later married. It began as a pet project for Shear, whose curvy frame and full bust made bra-buying a nightmare. In 2006, she relocated the business and her home to St. Petersburg so she could be closer to HSN.

In 2011, Shear Enterprises raked in a whopping $72 million in revenue. In 2012, Shear was nominated for The American Business Awards’ prestigious Stevie Award for Most Innovative Company of the Year, followed by the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in Retail and Consumer Products.

Up until her “Ahh-ha” moment, the 59-year-old New Orleans native was best known as the host of Up All Night, a campy late-night movie marathon that aired from 1989 to 1998 on the USA Network. The program, which featured a scantily clad Shear introducing seedy low-budget flicks, landed the star in two Playboy pictorials.

A Snell Isle resident, Shear is currently helping launch two new lines of loungewear with aspiring celeb-preneurs Kato Kaelin and Crystal Hefner (Hugh’s wife). In April she revived Up All Night for local audiences on WTTA Ch. 38.

Where she goes for comfort food: Skyway Café. “It’s good old-fashioned homemade food. It’s family-owned and everything except the French fries is made from scratch. If you don’t feel well, you must get the hobo soup.”

Where she does a drive-thru: PDQ. “When I’m doing a salad on the run it’s my guilty pleasure. It doesn’t taste as manufactured as McDonald’s. It tastes like real food to me.”

Where she gets her deli fix: Lonni’s Sandwiches. “Their tuna and chicken salad is off the charts. I get a double scoop.”

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

High on style: Goodwill toward kids

Posted By on Thu, Aug 14, 2014 at 12:31 PM


Thrifting: When one visits several different thrift shops, second-hand shops, and vintage clothing stores in the hopes of buying several items of cheap and unusual clothing and other items. One usually does this with friends. —Urban Dictionary

Sounds like the ideal option for back-to-school shopping, right? Styling on a budget can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to look like you or your child forayed into dumpster diving over the weekend. A little eye for detail and a bit of creativity can go a long way. And while you may not find everything on your list, one staple that’s almost always covered is jeans.

For the record, thrifting for girls can be far easier than for guys. But undeterred, I unearthed all the clothing found on this page from one source — Goodwill on Tampa Road in Oldsmar — for under $10.

One faux fur vest plus one geometric Guess dress equals a fabulous look for school and extra-curricular activities. 

Like fall foliage (a girl can dream), colored jeans are in the forecast and showed up in a variety of hues. 
Brand name button-downs and graphic tees are often found at Goodwill, but only choose those pieces that look current. In their absence, it’s best to lean toward simpler items to avoid looking out of date. 

A frayed or faded collar is a dead giveaway that you’re wearing something aged (not in a good way). Be mindful of this when shopping for second-hand shirts. The purple, black and white houndstooth dress with faux fur collared crop jacket (right) is for the girl who wants to stand out. It’s worth noting that this dress was $2.17.

Not a fan of The Gap. I repeat, not a fan of The Gap. But if I were in grade school, I’d totally be rocking this little corduroy jacket with the pleated denim skirt.  

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Dark & Sinful: Viva Europa!

Posted By on Thu, Aug 14, 2014 at 11:58 AM

  • via
I got lucky last winter. A good friend of mine asked me to teach a poetry class at a two-week literary program in Lisbon: my first trip overseas.

The complimentary, Solo cup-sized glass of wine, and some more-than-the-doctor-prescribed Xanax, made the flight fly by. I fell in love with my hotel’s breakfast buffet, where a big basket of Nata — a traditional Portuguese custard pastry — waited for me every morning. I couldn’t get enough vinho verde, nor enough sangria, in a pitcher so huge the wooden spoon was more like an oar. I mastered the point-smile-shrug in restaurants where I was too embarrassed to butcher the name of the entrée I wanted. I essentially ate out a bowl of prawns in saffron oil. It was amazing.

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

High on Style: Threading the world together

Cozette’s Boutique offers local, foreign and fair trade fashion.

Posted By on Thu, Jul 17, 2014 at 5:29 AM


Thousands of miles away, an Indian man painstakingly places 26 individual tiny pebbles in soft cloth and ties each one off before dyeing the fabric to form a print. It becomes a lovely scarf, fashioned by hand from the “Alamwar” brand. It journeys all the way to America and lands like a feather at Cozette’s Boutique in St. Pete.

Worldly treasures dominate the space: one-of-a-kind pieces from France, “Skunkfunk” from Spain, fair trade from a Himalayan village and spiritual beads crafted by an artisan from South Beach. On the side (quite literally on the wall), Cozette showcases two massive mixed-media installations created by her beau, celebrated local artist Ron Francis. She and I take a whirl around, and every collection has a story that sounds like a romance novel.

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Thursday, July 3, 2014

High on Style: Two easy pieces

Posted By on Thu, Jul 3, 2014 at 5:30 AM

  • Aarolyn Spradley
Vintage swimwear still makes a splash at the beach, but a hot new twist on the modest style from Allusions by A. Lekay screams fabulous. I caught up with Allusions proprietress Altrichia Cook (aka A. Lekay) at the tail end of her company’s one-year birthday bash.

So what are high-waist bikinis doing in a modern world? For Lekay, they arose from the need to address a common issue.

“I am a mother and I do have abdominal imperfections,” Lekay shares. “I had my son at a very young age. I raised my son at college with me so when traveling with sorority sisters and college friends, I was never able to wear a two-piece. I always wanted to wear a two-piece to feel sexy.”

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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

French Quarter: High on Style in New Orleans

The people of New Orleans don't just dress up for Mardi Gras.

Posted By on Tue, Mar 4, 2014 at 10:13 PM


It’s wintertime in New Orleans, and even without a Mardi Gras parade in sight you can still pick the locals out from the crowd.


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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Do This: Style Issue Release Party & IADT Fashion Show

Posted By on Thu, Dec 12, 2013 at 3:54 PM


Join CL and the International Academy of Design & Technology tonight as we celebrate local designers at the CL Style Issue Release Party and IADT Fashion Show.

IADT students made quite a splash at Fashion Week Tampa Bay this year. CL Style Editor Leslie Joy Ickowitz particularly liked the work of Alexandra Lin and Gigi Guerra, whose black and gold full-length coat was, in Leslie’s words, “swoon-worthy.”

Equally swoon-worthy are the nine local fashion designers Leslie spotlighted for this week's Style Issue: Dolly Donshey, Sandra Hagen, J. Hendrix, Lorena Knezevic, Audrey "Pat" McGhee, Stephen Ogaga, Elizabeth Carson Racker, Rhonda Shear, and Rachana Suri. The fashions of all nine walked the runway during Fashion Week Tampa Bay.

There will be complimentary light hors d’oeuvres and beverages at the party. Arrive early and take a tour of IADT’s new campus to see where fashion happens.

Thurs. Dec. 12. Open House mixer, 6 p.m. Fashion show, 7 p.m. IADT Tampa campus, 3725 W. Grace St., Tampa.

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Monday, December 2, 2013

Bow Ties & Clutches: A reason to get all dolled up

Posted By on Mon, Dec 2, 2013 at 9:51 PM


Calling all the suave gents and lovely ladies; it’s time to bust out that trendy get-up you’ve been dying to wear and strut your stuff at the Bay Area’s premier fashion party.

Brought to you by The Fashion Movement, Bow Ties and Clutches makes its return to the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts after its triumphant debut last year — and not to mention earning itself a Creative Loafing Best of the Bay award.

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