Fashion Week is here — not just seven, but nine days of fashionable activities, from September 13-21. The full schedule is posted at fashionweektampabay.com, but here are a few highlights.
Here comes the … Fashion & Bridal Brunch (Saturday, September 14) at Piquant in Hyde Park Village, complete with a collection of vintage wedding gowns on display from the Art Institute of Tampa.
On Thursday, September 19th, fashion pops up at Karma: The Shops at Channelside, a three-day-only retail shopping experience. This year, the public can choose to pay $35 and attend the Media Preview on Thursday or pop in for free on Friday and Saturday. And after the lights go down on the runway show next Friday night, the Blogger Brilliance Conference takes center stage on Saturday the 21st. If the inaugural event was any indication, the conference should be a bright spot for new and seasoned bloggers alike.
This year’s Designer Runway Show (Friday, September 20, Hilton Downtown Tampa) will feature nine designer Spring/Summer 2014 collections, plus an IADT Student Showcase.
Rhonda Shear’s intimates always turn up the heat, and this year she’ll reveal a design collaboration with Playboy Bunny Crystal Hefner, who plans to attend the show. Waiting to hear if her hubby Hugh will, too.
Monstruosité by Dolly Donshey is presenting a “dark fantasy.” Donshey calls it “a very internal and personal concept for me and illustrates our struggles both physically and metaphorically with those who have done us wrong.”
Newcomer Rachana Suri’s self-proclaimed “split personality” should mix up the show. “I love rock, rap, and R&B, so my designs take a little bit of my hardcore rock side with zippers and skulls in one line, while the other line is fun bright colors made of silk and other natural fibers to go out for an elegant dinner on the town.”
The message behind her madness is as intriguing. “As women, we need to realize that how we spend our money or what we support is just as important as how we look.”
“Women are works of art,” offers Lolodaisy’s Lorena Knezevic, a 17-year-old designer and the youngest to ever present at FWTB. “Some of us are bold with our colorful characters, some painted with passion, others created with a calm serenity. If women are works of art, then fashion should be the frame that displays women as beautifully as possible.”
Lines inspire Sandra Hagen this season. “I start with an inspiration to keep me focused. Then I pick my colors. I start sketching the designs, trying to find a balance between comfort, shape, color, and fit. I hope to get something wearable, feminine and beautiful.”
With nature as her guide, Kimberly Hendrix says k.hendrix models should “shine naturally” on the runway. “I don’t want heavy foundation to hide their skin, and I don’t want their hair to overwhelm them. I typically stick with clean faces and beach hair, then throw in a little twist.” This year's twist involves a few swimwear pieces added to the mix.
Audrey “Pat” McGhee, the only designer in the lineup to participate in Tampa Bay Fashion Week all six years, is sending “Adam” — a men’s collection — down the runway, “with a touch of “Eve” [a few women’s pieces],” she says. “I have always been inspired to design for a man. Something about seeing a man in a suit is hot!”
What’s the point of all this? Executive Producer Nancy Vaughn explains, “The goal is and has always been to provide an opportunity for designers, retailers and fashion enthusiasts in the region to come together, network and support one another.”
When I asked the designers, “If you could paint the town any color what would it be?”, one response stood out:
“I would rather paint the town in a mood,” Rachana Suri said, “maybe a little happy, a little more accepting; a little understanding, intertwined with tons of love!”
Gotta love that.
Gender essentialism. Thumbs down.
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