Well, hello Dolly — and Monstruosite's devilish new looks 

Dolly Donshey bedevils us with a creepy-beautiful launch of her new collection, and duo Death Starsky play tracks from their new concept album.

The final days of winter 2013 saw some strange events — from a Seffner man being tragically swallowed up by the earth to a pope’s retirement.

In between, it also gave us the launch of a new fall/winter 2013-14 collection by local fashion prodigy Dolly Donshey, “Seven Devils.” The world may be going to hell in a hand basket, but if the up-and-coming 22-year-old designer has anything to do with it, it will go out in style.

The recent premiere and unveiling of the Monstruosite collection at Martini Republic in downtown Tampa offered an evening of Edward Gorey-esque, theatrical flair. Models with ghostly expressions and intense makeup/hair walked out — not so much on a catwalk; more like a death march — to a narrated monologue that Donshey and Marie Ann Swift penned. The hauntingly melodramatic prose was inspired by the Seven Deadly Sins of the Roman Catholic Canon — greed, gluttony, wrath, sloth, envy, vanity and lust — and religion overall. Once onstage, the models froze in tableau with desolate props symbolizing each sin. The apocalypse never looked so pretty.

They wore custom made organic knit, crushed velvet, leather and lace. Donshey designed, with Sarah Walden, and developed a rose pattern over a four-month period. The color and depth of her design was continuously tested until the proper shade was found for each color, she wrote in the event’s program. “In many cultures, the rose symbolizes the Virgin Mary and innocence. We strategically chose the rose to represent the seven sins because we felt the contrast between the innocence and Godliness disguising such evil was truly beautiful.”

An awards presentation was pleasant and not what I was accustomed to from fashion divas. Though Donshey was clearly in command and remarkably self-possessed for her young age, she graciously offered the spotlight to the people who’ve been invaluable to her during the launch and past year and gave out goody bags to all who attended (I somehow missed getting one; just my luck this past month).

Donshey honored Indulge Salon and Spa of Dillards in Citrus Park for providing the hairstyles and shoes for the models and gift bag goodies, Von Garden of Haven Industries for lighting and sound, Rick Herbert of acehighprint.com and Darcy Rouh (Monstruosite Styling Director).

The designer also projected information about RAINN.org, the nonprofit that helps victims of sexual assault. Donshey has been a staunch supporter of the non-profit — even long before starting her Monstruosite fashion line, and has donated proceeds during past events, like the Deadly Sins launch.

Darcy Rouh (Monstruosite Styling Director) presented the first "Monster of the Year" award to Roarie Yum for outstanding dedication and commitment to the brand.

“This model has been the face of Monstruosite for three seasons now and is leaving us to work in New York,” Donshey said. “She has done a phenomenal job for us and is always a pleasure to work with. We are so sad to see her leave us and wanted to show her how much we have appreciated her time, hard work and friendship.”

The models representing wrath, dressed in red, were Megan Lessard and Bridget Egan; gluttony (pink): Olesia Alexa, Tikhonova and Jazzy Mendoza; envy (green): Brooke Huseby and Summer-Rae; vanity (purple): Hana Young and Rachel Aumuller; lust (blue): Sierra Lizotte and Emily Wehunt; sloth (grey): Chelsea Mourgan Brooks and Angelise Cancel, and greed (gold): Sheridan Markham and Maddie Hall.

Also contributing to the evening: Aveda Institute, Mr. Purple Films, Sheena Cuccia Artistry & Design, and the truly dynamic music duo Death Starsky, who played tunes from its intriguing and forthcoming illustrated novel-meets-CD. Their sound: the atmospheric flourish of Radiohead with smooth-flowing danceable hip-hop. (Not a style that matched aesthetically with the proceedings but nonetheless really cool and engaging.)

Known in another incarnation as the Basiqs — one of my favorite local acts last decade — Death Starsky is J-Sin and Gage Starsky — MCs, vocalists, musicians and arrangers. They’ve worked arduously on their new concept album, which includes an illustrated novel by artists from around the world. I look forward to seeing/hearing the final product (look for coverage in our music section soon). Plus they deserve kudos for having one of the cleverest band names in a while.


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