New York, LA, Paris, Milan, Tampa Bay — surely when you think of style, Tampa Bay springs to mind right alongside the fashion capitals of the world.
No? Not so much?
Okay. But for the record, we do have style. And our own fashion scene, too. But in the words of indie rock band Gossip, “It’s up to me and you to prove it.”
I’ll go first.
Three years ago, I launched VERTICAL Tampa Bay, a magazine celebrating fashion, flavor, travel, culture and beauty (inside and out). It’s a love letter to Tampa Bay, fashioned with local style, talent and treasures.
So far, VERTICAL has existed only online (you can find the first 10 issues at VERTICALTampaBay.com). But now, in addition to its online incarnation, you’ll find glossy “slice” editions of VERTICAL in upcoming issues of CL — which indirectly but sort of explains how I landed here on this page, with my first CL column on the local fashion scene. Here to tell you, or show you rather, that Tampa Bay does have style.
It’s true: The scene exists in pockets. But tucked into those pockets you’ll find expressions of individuality, distinct points of view, inspiration and cause for celebration.
Style meets substance with local designers, models, beauty and style professionals showing up on the regular, volunteering their time and talent for charity fashion shows like Peace Couture. A benefit for The Spring of Tampa Bay (Nov. 9, Italian Club, Ybor City), it’s one of many such events happening all the time in our area. Rising to the occasion and making a difference in our community is always in good taste.
This weekend, Dunedin Fine Art Center presents Wearable Art 8, an avant-garde fashion show featuring notable local designers George Medeiros & Scott Durfee of Spathose and Rogerio Martins among the lineup (check out Megan Voeller’s profile of Martins on p. 27). Now in its eighth year, Wearable Art is accustomed to seeing a sold-out crowd of close to 900 fashion enthusiasts.
Next month, Tampa Bay Fashion Week celebrates its fifth anniversary. Day after day, night after night FWTB gives us reason to dress up and step out on the town, all for the love of fashion (Sept. 15-22, FashionWeekTampaBay.com).
Mr. Lacey B. Smith accessorizes the local scene annually with Haute: The Accessory Show, which is devoted entirely to the contributions of accessories designers (Sept. 7, Hunter’s Green Country Club).
ARTpool Gallery in St. Petersburg hosts events every five minutes, it seems. Tick tock, tick tock, time for another one. Coming up on Oct. 13, the Abnormal Formal Art Party will feature a Dia De Los Muertos runway show.
Around Earth Day each year, trashy fashion litters the runway (well, not really litters) to raise awareness about the importance of recycling. The City of Largo’s Trashy Fashion Show is an imaginative display by amateur designers featuring trash transformed into something catwalk wearable. The stuff they put up there truly makes a scene.
The reality is, for Tampa Bay’s fashion scene to exist, we have to claim it. Make it so. Inspire each other and support local. In this spirit, I will show up here often to show you what’s in store at boutiques like Baubles…etc, what’s hot from fashion designers like Sandra Hagen, and original looks I spot people wearing around town. Will you be the focus of my lens when I set out to shoot street style?
Being fashionable has nothing to do with waist size or what’s in your wallet. My fashion philosophy is this: If you embrace your individuality, mix in some creativity and carry yourself with confidence, it doesn’t matter if you pay $5 or $500 for a look. You will rock it.
Don’t sit back and say Tampa Bay doesn’t have a fashion scene. Be the change you wish to see in the world. Express yourself. That’s stylish.
Details of “Alice Rocks Wonderland”: Photography, Brandy DeMarzo; lighting, Curt Leimbach; wardrobe styling, Pamela Bloomgren, MOD Productions & Leslie Joy Ickowitz; model, Rachel Reed; hair, Bill Baker; makeup, Pamela Bloomgren; wardrobe, La France; asst. wardrobe stylist, Nadia Nunez.
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