A gleaming white runway is akin to a blank canvas, upon which possibilities unfold. As surprisingly large numbers gathered Friday night in the downtown Tampa Hilton ballroom (signifying that Tampa Bay’s fashion scene is planted firmly on the map), there were many questions about what would soon be parading before us.
Questions like: Why the hell is Kato Kaelin here? And why is he handing out potatoes? The answer lies in his new collection of Kato KouchPotato Wear — a collaboration between the former OJ Simpson houseguest/murder trial witness and lingerie designer Rhonda Shear. I didn’t want to like it. But I did. More the guys’ stuff than the girls, but it mostly looked soft, comfy and stylish, horizontal stripes and all. (See Paul Guzzo’s story about his night out with Kato and Rhonda here.)
What is Stephen Ogaga going to do with leather? Show us a kickass collection, that’s what. Adding an extra layer of hotness to the already hot black and red leather street wear, the SW8 collection (one of my favorites of the night) featured asymmetrical seams and gold zippers.
At 17 years old, has Lolodaisy’s Lorena Knezevic been on the planet long enough to establish a point of view? Oh yes she has. Lots of gold and geometry showed up in her collection, with thoughtful, angular draping appearing on the bottoms of delicate dresses — thus inspiring my one and only runway-side photography project of the night: “Lolodaisy Legs” — an Instagram video found @lesliejoyoriginal.
Will Audrey “Pat” McGhee’s “Adam” menswear line be well-received? Indeed. The only designer to present at all six years of Tampa Bay Fashion Week managed to put up something truly fresh with her collection of inspired, original-looking menswear with super-cool suits and jackets and special attention to cuff, collar and bowtie details. The touch of “Eve” (women’s looks) didn’t make much of a splash, but the styling was something to talk about, with neon hair-bowties topping the girls’ heads.
Is the IADT student showcase going to be worth our time? It was. One after another student designer proved they had the vision and skill to execute relevant, wearable looks that appeared quite well-constructed. Standouts included Alexandra Lin, who worked with an adorable green and white print to create even more adorable looks for a fun day out, while Gigi Guerra constructed a swoon-worthy black and gold full-length coat that belongs in my closet.
And what else walked down the FWTB runway?
Dolly Donshey’s Monstruosite put on quite a show with a body-chain cage over nude crushed-velvet briefs that took my breath away and a stiff yet somehow flowy black dress with a front slit up to there. Get me a fan.
The k.hendrix “Naked Cadence” collection blew onto the runway like a delicate summer breeze, complete with beach hair — just how she wanted it — and a twist of tree branches. Surprise! Some of her looks featured shoes by local and international design favorite Ivanka Ska.
Elizabeth Carson Racker makes palazzo pants like nobody’s business and is doing some interesting things with rope-woven embellishments and plunging v-necks.
Rachana Suri showed eco-friendly dresses, but the eco-friendliness was like an inside secret that didn’t convey on the runway.
Sandra Hagen, whose collection included maxi-dresses dripping in jewel tones, was the only designer to have looks show up both on the runway and at every seat, with her designs pictured on the cover of VERTICAL Tampa Bay magazine in the swag bags.
Gender essentialism. Thumbs down.
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