St. Louis Fashion Week, in its third year, sponsored by Budweiser Select, produced by Attilio D’Agostino, provided the venue for new and emerging designers to showcase their talents to the heartland of America, and strut their Fall/Winter 2009 collections down the runway at the Lumiere Place Casino & Hotels.
Similar in approaches, these are designers who are befriending the planet, individually and collectively.
An invite from the CVB for yours truly and Splash publisher Lawrence Davis placed us in the front row where we not only had a VIP view, but also witnessed the popularity of St. Louis Fall/Winter 2009 Fashion Week, in the very savvy city where the “junior size and label” originated. This year’s event brought together an eclectic group of creative and optimistic designers . . . as well as a receptive and appreciative audience; some had traveled far; others were local trend setters and members of the St. Louis Fashion Group who will host a luncheon on Saturday. The St. Louis Fashion Group, the first non profit fashion organization established by and for women was founded in 1930 to help members become more effective in their professional lives.
Our first night in town, we settle into our seats just as the lights dim, gets underway with Trim, a premier menswear line, sold at Sak’s 5th Avenue; created by Charlie Smith and Jon Maurice.
Inspired by the American auto industry and specific car designs, their collection of blazers, knit shirts, hats, tee shirts, denim bags and belt buckles incorporate vintage upholstery and classic Chevy colors.
Beach Bunny Swimwear, is a big hit with the audience as their models strut a collection of sexy, lingerie inspired, swimwear, designed by former swimwear model Angela Chittenden.
Cloak & Dagger, a New York label, launched in 2006 by Brookelynn Starnes, and now sold across the country, presents an elegant collection of sensuously draped and tailored fabrics with flirtatious trims.
Black Halo, a celebrity favorite, designed by LA based Laurel Berman, is a perfect mix of sexy and sophisticated. Her famous Jackie O dress and classic separates reveal her devotion to feminine retro silhouettes.
The fast paced show “EMERGE”, featuring Diesel, Wrath-Arcana, Bolongaro.
Love Brigade, presented by the Brown Shoe Company, energizes the audience. Brigade, designed by Alysso Key and Jamie Rockaway, and based in Brooklyn, NY’s trendy Williamsburg neighborhood, presents their cutting edge “ Going Home Collection” of fun tops and dresses with clever names like: Tinypants. Upbeat, a Revival Dress, a Territory Top of focal denim: Braced Tea, the Surrender Dress, the Love Brigade is Coming Tee, and the Wanderer’s Tee.
Wrath Arcane, an International menswear label based in Cleveland, designed by Sean Bilovecky and Brian O’neill, remains loyal to its use of domestic manufacturing and environmentally conscious fabrics with its fun collection of casual denims, jackets and vintage tab shirts.
Diesel, by Renzo Rosso, presents a racy collection of men and woman’s underwear and swimwear. The Diesel logo, appearing in provocative places, brought a smile to all our faces. I particularly liked the brown bra with the black lace overlay and matching bottom.
Shoes by Brown Shoes
Men’s Shoes by Rocker Dog
A luncheon and runway fashion show with the theme “Fresh”, hosted by KMOV-TV4’s Vicki Newton, features Fashion Group International’s St. Louis Rising Star designers: Angelina Accoutrements by Jen Sertl, KayOss designs by Amy Johnson, Miriam Coffey, Susanne Lay, Squasht by Les and Urban Fox by Megan Power and Lizzie Cook. The well attended event benefits FGI’s Rising Star designer grant program which supports local designers.
Saturday’s Fashion Week Market and sample sale in the Lumiere’s Atrium attracts a large crowd of shoppers who take advantage of the opportunity to buy designs featured in the evening shows, as well as clothing and accessories from other local designers who have an opportunity to showcase their flair for innovative creativity off the runway.
The theme tonight is “Glow”, and glow it did, featuring Macy’s top designer’s collections, plus Lori Coulter’s made-to-order sultry and sophisticated swimwear collection and the Fashion Week’s finale party, featuring a live musical performance by Coco Soul and Mo Egeston of Soul Alliance.
Bolongaro Trevor‘s sharp and rocking collection is full of inspiration from Queen Victoria, the British Lion and the drug dens of the times, best described as power dressing of the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s.
Amy Johnson, an engineer turned fashion designer, works magic with the fabrics and color palate of her KayOss separates collection. Her green and beige horizontal stripe silk skirt is paired with a lime green satin blouse. I loved her black & white silk print skirt worn with a black silk top, trimmed in fascia and the white turtle neck light weight sweater, with fluffy white cuffs, worn with simple black trousers.
Lori Coulter’s made-to-order swimwear collection is a highlight of the show. Her modern interpretation of nostalgic looks from the 50’s and 60’s brings poolside style to a new level of glamour and sophistication. Asymmetrical designs, cut-outs and solid colors combine for a modern architectural look that highlights the feminine form. Her corset style French lingerie influenced swimwear with flirty details will bring out the naughty in even the shyest.
80th Anniversary Washington University Fashion Design Show
We leave town before Washington University’s Design Class of 2009 and 2010, under the tutelage of Jeigh Singleton, presents their fashion show. I understand it received a standing ovation, and as this group of aspiring fashion designers forges ahead to make their mark on the fashion world, my congratulations go to: Jeremiah Xavier Avila, a Yma scholarship recipient, Michellane Deutsch, who worked as a production design intern … Eula Hinds, a grant writer and fund raiser … Catherine Hite, who interned at Diane Von Furstenberg and received the Booker T.Felder prize for craftsmanship… Margaret Hemkens, who interned at Alive Magazine… Audra Janak, who completed an internship with local designer Lori Coulter… Windnie Pan, winner of the Kimora Lee Simmons “Fabulosity” scholarship… Amanda Pargh, who sees herself, cooking more than sewing… Tara Phelan, proficient in American Sign Language … Elizabeth Romaner, who is following the path into costume design … and Melissa Wong, recipient of the prestigious Susan Sanders Block Silver Award.
Saint Louis and WU’s School of Design played fascinating roles in the history of America’s fashion industry. Back in the 1950’s when unions prohibited the cost of producing clothing lines in New York City, the fashion capital of the world turned to Saint Louis and the wealth of non union factory seamstresses; Washington Avenue became the manufacturing center for established labels from New York. The garment centers, both the showrooms in New York and the factories in Saint Louis worked together until local contractors wanted to make their own labels. However, they were not able to compete with New York. At the time, teenagers and their mothers wore the same even sized misses’ dresses. Irving Sorger, a Kline’s Department store executive conducted a survey with Washington University’s School of Design students, and determined there was a market for a different sizing . Sorority girls answered surveys as to what they wanted to wear, and their measurements were taken to determine a size range for a new product. The result of this collaboration, between University and manufacturers, was the birth of the junior dress.
Today, WU’s intense two year program remains true to the history and traditions of fashion design while incorporating contemporary strategies and modern technologies.
Our congratulations to those who organized inspired and produced St. Louis Fashion Week. We shall follow the careers of all the many talented designers who came together in the city where fashion was born and continues to thrive.
Learn more at The St. Louis Fashion Week Website here
To read our article on St. Louis click here