Last week was the second annual Cincinnati Fashion Week! If you didn’t know Cincinnati has a fashion week, now you know! Get excited for next year’s events now because the 2010 lineup was a blast, 2011 was a combination of unexpected elements that improved upon itself by the minute, and I can only imagine what fantastic things 2012 will bring. This was an exciting week and even more exciting is the continued focus on Cincinnati as a destination for talent and entertainment.
I must preface my recap with a disclaimer. Unfortunately this year I did not make it to all the events. I missed Monday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday (I know that is half the week). Even more unfortunate I am told Monday and Thursday were total parties. However, on the fortunate side I had the pleasure of meeting the fabulous young blogger team of “The Fagazine” fashion blog (www.thefagazine.com) early in the week so I never felt out of the loop.
Heading out to Tuesday’s event I had the internal monologue, “do I bring my big camera? It doesn’t really go with my outfit and will I lose the moment trying to capture each piece of it on film? But will I be satisfied with my elf quick pics?” I opted to leave the large camera at home and was regretting it when I met my new friends Zach Shumate editor-in-chief of The Fagazine, Ryan Seminara contributor and photographer of The Fagazine, and Drew Reidenbach freelance publicist at The House of Orange. Not only are these guys incredibly fun but we also have similar taste in fashion. When I “oohed” at a design or pattern that caught my eye I found Zach “aahing” and Ryan snapping amazing photos simultaneously at the same things! Needless to say I did not bring the camera or give it a second thought the rest of the week. To check out the detailed designer pics, play-by-play of the pre, post, and everyday’s fashion week events I highly recommend reviewing all of the posts from May 9 to 14 on www.thefagazine.com.
And now for my personal commentary:
Tuesday May 10, 2011
Men's Fashion Refinery
What do beautiful men, dapper fashion, orange caution spray paint, beer fermentation, and personal brand management all have in common? Unexpectedly these were all elements of Tuesday’s “Men’s Fashion Refinery.” Held at the future location of the Christian Morelein brewery in Over-the-Rhine. This event combined many elements I find interesting and warmed my industrial chic heart.
[For anyone unfamiliar, Over-the-Rhine is an area of Cincinnati with a rich history. Settled by German immigrants in the early 1800s, in its prime it was referred to as the “Paris” of the US with high levels of beer production and consumption, entertainment, and success. Few know this is where Annie Oakley first ran into Buffalo Bill and auditioned for his crew, and this was the first place to introduce Burlesque to the US. Cincinnati (Over-the-Rhine most severely) was devastated by Prohibition. Recent and ongoing revitalization of the area has been successful in breathing new life to these streets, successfully highlighting the beautiful architectural details and introducing a new generation to the rich history. Which brings me back to Men’s Fashion Refinery.]
I dressed casual for Tuesday but I also dressed for single men. Jeans, flowing tank belted because men like to see a figure. I opted for funky fresh accessories with a large white FoundryM garden chain and white watch. For punch of color I went all out with my DeGroot hand bag (yeah for DeGroot, a local accessories designer) and personalized Tahari pumps spray-painted orange. The OSHA orange spray paint caught a lot of attention and coordinated with the décor’!
I parked on a sidewalk, walked past a local porch party, and entered a visually stimulating warehouse full of Range Rovers, BMW, and Jaguars’ on display and a sign that stated my entrance constitutes release of my image for the filming of a mysterious production. I grabbed a new Christian Moerlein summer brew, scanned the crowd of ridiculously dapper looking men of all ages, and perused the tables of local male fashions.
Men’s’ fashion is an area of fashion to which I have only recently been introduced. In my limited experience it seems the success is in the details. It is exciting to see Cincinnati has a great representation of beautiful modern and youthful menswear.
Artfully Disheveled designer Christopher Berre focuses on high quality and interesting patterns with his collection of ties and pocket squares. As a constitutional amendment supporter and adventurous type I am particularly fond of “the six shooter” tie pattern. Not to mention I now have a crush on the voice of the “the network” blog on www.artfullydisheveled.com Not sure who is posting but I am following. Products are available for purchase locally at 45/46 XY Inspired on Erie Ave and Pomegranate & Lime on Wooster Pike in Cincinnati; on the Artfully Disheveled website; New York, and Chicago. Check out www.artfullydisheveled.com for more information.
Corwyn Apparel designer Corwyn Thomas also focuses on high quality and interesting patterns with much success but what really grabbed my attention was the brand new bow tie that is not yet available for viewing on www.corwynapparel.com (get excited as you are now privy to a new trend) they called it something specific and for the life of me I cannot remember what they called it (!?!Blog fail?!?), “The block” perhaps? Let me describe it: bow tie in solid colors from pastel purple to electric orange all with white trim tied fat and slightly undone. Love it! You will have to visit the showroom to see these in person which may sound like a chore but after talking to Michael Warner the regional sales manager about the private fittings and events they host I am not only sold on the “block?” bowties but also on the experience. Join the mailing list or contact Corwyn apparel directly by visiting www.corwynapparel.com
Jonathan Mezibov was the third menswear designer featured at Tuesday’s event. He also provided a stunningly handsome collection in Saturday’s Fashion Finale runway show. Beautifully tailored slim cut shirts with modern proportions in interesting patterns are the focus. I was especially partial to the spread collar button down with a bib front in deep purple. It had a pleating detail similar to a tuxedo. Interesting enough to be noticed in a crowd but casual enough to be comfortable out on a Saturday night. The purple is not yet shown but look forward to shopping for it on www.jonathanmezivbov.com
Moving from the expose` of all things male to a large back seating area for an interesting presentation on personal branding. Key take-away: be mindful of fit, location where wearing something, personal ascetic and differentiators, and attention to the details. Elbow blowouts no more gentleman. It may just blow your dapper man brand.
|At any moment a model like photographer may be in a subbasement in Cincinnati looking stylish.|
After the presentation the brewery tour was an interesting end to my evening. As this is the “future” location of Christian Moerlein, the brewery that was toured was the 1880 brewery that originally inhabited the location. This was great. Similar to the “underground tour” described in one of my earlier blog posts, we started in the clean and refurbished warehouse main setting, traveled down narrow stairs, a hole in the floor accented with the previously mentioned orange spray paint, and into dank, mud dug tunnels to the malting subbasements that produced the millions of gallons of pre-prohibition brew. I loved the relaxed tour guide, beer in hand and full of knowledge, and was especially amused by women in four inch heels climbing and trekking where heels have never been before.
Tuesday was an evening of adventure.
Wednesday May 11, 2011
Tea with Mary
You know I love a day at the museum. So it is no surprise I loved Wednesday’s Tea with Mary Baskett. I arrived at the Cincinnati Art Museum too late for tea but in time for Mary and Cynthia Amneus, the associate curator of clothing and textiles at the Cincinnati Art Museum, to provide a video tour of Mary’s extensive collection of Yojhi Yamamoto, Rei Kawakubo (Comme de Garcons) and Issey Miyake. Collecting since the 1970s Mary is dedicated to these designers. Hearing her descriptions you can feel her appreciation and fearless dedication to wearing their creations. And I love that she totally makes it all work.
I loved hearing Mary’s stories of how and where she acquired key pieces. Seeing the passion Mary clearly has for the unconventional forms, especially for the designs of Rei Kowakubo, was really inspiring. I want to start a collection of something specific and stay dedicated to being stylish and rocking it for decades! I was really struck by the soft spoken description of Japanese fashion appreciation of “the beauty in being undone.”
After hearing this phrase I couldn’t help but get a little ticked at myself for not being so fearless and not celebrating the beauty in being undone. I had intended to make a fantastic orange skirt out of fabric repurposed from the table decorations at my friend’s baby shower. It was a great punching color but with limited construction skills and no pattern I abandoned it as part of my outfit because it ended up a little lopsided, kind of incomplete looking, and a little unflattering with little fit. As I looked at Mary in her beautiful green skirt with a thick roll at the waist looking totally chic all I could think about was how I needed to be more fearless. Her is what I wore and here is me celebrating my homemade creation since I didn’t on Wednesday.
What a beautiful place for a fashion show as well. Models, hair by Mitchells, dressed by Fetish boutique, and makeup like little porcelain dolls with pursed lips, paraded down one side of the stair case, into the crowd, and then up the other. Fantastic showing! (Check out http://www.thefagazine.com/2011/05/cincinnati-fashion-week-day-3.html for great shots of the show). With so many interesting and wearable options on display it was hard to pick a favorite but the hot pink zippered shoe-booties paired with a structured grey dress may have pulled into the lead for me. Well that or the all black leggings, black top, and red pumps accented with a black fedora painted with a woman’s face that Mary Baskett’s friend, equally as chic as Mary, was wearing. Wednesday was possibly the coolest tea in history.
Saturday May 14, 2011
Enter through the side door, pass the docked boats, take the open walled elevator with the suited elevator operator, and emerge into the stark white walls and artfully columned industrial chic space that is “The Edge!” All white chairs and a white runway snaking through the space ensure a perfect backdrop for the designer creations. Seating section wrist bands color coordinated with vitamin waters placed on chairs were a subtle way of directing attendees to the appropriate section and the runway route was a brilliant way of ensuring that everyone was sitting first or second row.
Outfit watching while waiting for the show to start was also incredibly entertaining. Everyone did it up demonstrating personal style to the max. Of course, I made my outfit, whip stitching an uneven hem 20minutes before leaving, and emboldened by the mantra “beauty in being undone” I wore it safety pin backing up my hook-and-eye closure and all. The idea was to let the beauty of the intense purple fabric envelop me. Creating a new shape with the fabric but still focusing on the fit needed for a curvy figure by letting it show through. Lets be honest, I really didn’t need much more than that fabric to look fabulous. I think the effect came across, imperfections and all. Wasn’t the most polished look but I got some compliments and, most importantly, I loved it.
Lindsey Lusignolo artfully combines tulle, Swarovski crystals, feathers, architectural details and great attention to fit to create drama and just a generally spectacular collection. Focusing on custom bridal and evening wear pieces she offers the option of a couture experience through direct contact and collaboration http://www.lindseylusignolo.com/ and, coming soon, a showroom on Main street in Cincinnati. Had I seen some of the designs demonstrated in the runway show ahead of time I probably would have contacted Lindsey Lusignolo for a dress to the event in lieu of my creation, (although as a local favorite I wouldn’t have been the only one attending wearing a Lindsey. Probably still would have been ok with that…).
Personal favorites from Lindsay’s collection included the cream floor length satin gown with plunging back and silver Swarovski crystal and tulle leaf detailing; black sweet heart neckline with sculpted bodice and feathered explosion cocktail length number; and the maroon with electric violet sheen taffeta and violet tulle accent cocktail length dress. Oh and the finale bridal number cream with a grey tulle explosion with grey origami like bustle, I can’t even put to words you are going to need to see for yourself (http://www.thefagazine.com/2011/05/cincinnati-fashion-week-finale-lindsay.html#more)…I could go on all day but the pictures say it all.
I mentioned Jonathan Mezibov when talking about Tuesday (see above) but while talking about the runway show let me reference more details by providing another link http://www.thefagazine.com/2011/05/cincinnati-fashion-week-finale.html
Laura Dawson is another designer with local ties. I loved what she put down the runway and I love that she also has an online store http://www.lauradawson.com/ She is currently working out of London with distribution around the globe but for Cincinnati fashionistas this online access is key. Her playful designs are full of interesting details and brilliant colors. Personal favorite for me was the pink “scuba skirt” and fitted crochet sweater. I loved the pattern of the sweater, they way she styled it with nothing underneath, and it looked super soft. She also featured many beautifully fit and detailed fall trenches that for a split second made me excited for the first falling leaves before even reaching the summer months (that NEVER happens) http://www.thefagazine.com/2011/05/cincinnati-fashion-week-finale-laura.html for the full playful play-by-play.
If you love femininity with a bit of playfulness you are going to love Amy Kirchen http://www.amykirchen.com/ Her website does not give you the full extent of awesomeness that she showcased at the 2011 Cincinnati Fashion Week show. She also has a boutique on Main Street in Milford Ohio and I am planning a trip as we speak to shop for spring. I want the white large pocketed and belted romper and black jumpsuit. The jumpsuits, the rompers, the patterns, the a-line skirts, and tailored office looks with blouson top blend references of the 1950s’, 60s’, and 70s’ but their modern tailoring and relaxed sex appeal say, “I’m not going to be your house wife or secretary unless it suits me.” http://www.thefagazine.com/2011/05/cincinnati-fashion-week-finale-amy.html
Amare Sinh is edgy and elegant. http://www.amaresinh.com/ blending cultural influences from around the globe the designs are a unique blend of colors and textures. I love a texture fashion play. On the website the gold blazer is something I could see heightened to classic status in my closet. At the show, I was impressed with the designer’s use of full faux fur pelts in a way that still highlighted the lithe figures of the models.
Cala Ossidiana swimwear collection http://www.calaossidiana.com/ was understated with its focus on solid colors and classic lines but with mesh insets, knot backs, and seductive extra long ties these suits were anything but basic. http://www.thefagazine.com/2011/05/cincinnati-fashion-week-cala-ossidiana.html If you like prints you are out of luck but if you like multiple options for how to move the bikini strings to avoid tan lines, and not seeing other people wearing the same suit, you are going to want to check the Cala Ossidiana options.
Amanda Valentine http://www.amandavalentine.com/ hand makes each piece. Where Amare Sinh was a texture play I would describe Amanda Valentine as a pattern play as she artfully combines interesting patterns in unexpected ways. I found her sliced dresses to be visually interesting and I really loved the statement jewelry pieces that adorned many of the looks. She has a link from her website to her etsy store which I am hoping to find freshly stocked in short order.
Arbitrage made its second Cincinnati Fashion week appearance. http://www.arbitrage.com/ You may find the Arbitrage man familiar from Cincinnati Fashion week 2010 or you may find it familiar from some of the many Hollywood hunks that dawn the duds on the red carpet. The interesting details are really what make this line. Last year seemingly basic shirts were lined in poker themed patterns and this year, while patterns still played a role in the collection they were toned down and subtle by comparison. My favorite part about the Arbitrage 2011 runway showing was the interesting and cool hooded shirt. I could see it paired with a 22inch funky fresh garden chain from Foundry M on a casual weekend! Favorite item on the Arbitrage website: “movember” Manchu mustache shaped cufflinks!
Melissa Tabor http://melissatabor.com/ does dresses well. Exposed zippers, check; understated colors and interesting textures, check; fit and structural details, check and check. I found each of her pieces to be incredibly wearable. While she represented options for every occasion (love the formal cream low back number) I found the structured top day dresses and interesting suiting to be the strong point of the collection. They could easily be styled to go from day to evening and provide comfort for a woman on the go in places often overlooked. Pockets for a day dress are borderline essentials anymore in a skirt full enough to handle them and her zipper ties allowing for self closure (or easy opening) were unexpected, looked chic, and are totally convenient.
Avni Trivedi is all about fabric. http://www.avnitrivedi.com/ Focusing on sustainable fabrics, sourced from traditional artisanal production means across the globe blended old world culture with new areas of global importance. Many of the silhouette proportions were unusual but allowed for the fabric to remain the focus of the design. Personal favorites were the white shirt with floral embroidered hem, the use of scarfing, and the finale dress that was a beautiful combination of fabrics and demonstration of draping. Also, while I do not think I could ever wear a horizontal striped pant I still remain strangely enamored with them… check out the full details at http://www.thefagazine.com/2011/05/cincinnati-fashion-week-finale-avni.html
The After Party
After three fantastic hours of fashion awesomeness it was on to the after party at the Weston Art Gallery. Have you been to the Weston Art Gallery? Admittedly this was my overdue first trip. My intention was to tour the exhibit before diving completely into the “Exhibitionism” themed party but we decided to get a cocktail first… A return visit to the gallery is in short order as there was no turning back after making the trip to get drinks. The cocktails were located through the gallery, past the participation art (the half naked man you could paint at your whim), past the wall of large round mirrors, past the woman in the bathtub full of feathers, past the floor to ceiling delicate white fringe, past the dance floor, the deejay, the face painting artist, spoofs of recognizable art in the buff, and past countless patrons in all levels dismissing their inhibitions. Everywhere you looked there was something interesting to look, touch, or taste. The x mango flavored vodka with soda and a splash of OJ was reminiscent of the vitamin water I had earlier and just as refreshing. After a few of these, a little dancing, and a bit of saucy “Framester” photo booth pictures with new friends, and the night was over before I made it back to check out the art. This party was refreshing art in itself.
…Ok the evening may have ended a little later after chips, guacamole, and after several more hours of dancing but that is going to be for another blog. I am fabulously exhausted!