October 20, 2014

#STLFW Designer Runway Showcase

The finale at Union Station was a spectacular showcase that packed an extra-special punch of fashion goodness! Check it out:

I snagged a few minutes pre-show to chat with Neil Bardon about his brainchild, Saint Rita Parlor. The brand, launched in 2013, is named after his grandmother Rita. The eyewear, accessories, and garments are inspired by his grandfather, a prisoner of war in the 1940s. Refreshingly intelligent and offbeat, the designer described his menswear collection as "Ivy League meets World War 1" with an undercurrent of "European" and "Catholic" flavor. Although Neil is a St. Louis native, he currently resides in Los Angeles. When I politely suggested that he return home, he laughed about how much he appreciates the always-sunny California weather. (Can't really argue with that.) 
Neil Bardon, founder of Saint Rita Parlor
Right and lower photos by Victoria Lafferty
Insider tidbits: the look on the far left is Neil's fave, as it is the first men's outfit he ever designed. The long jacket has 33 buttons because "Jesus died at age 33."
Photos by Victoria Lafferty
Neutral hues and a myriad of fabrics make this New Hampshire native's modern, feminine collection quite visually pleats-ing. The gorgeous crochet top got lots of buzz from the peanut gallery in my runway section.  
Photos by Mark Schwigen
Photos by Mark Schwigen
A mesmerizing mix of textures like lace and knits, a pastel/black/white color palette, and looks for men and women characterize this Nebraskan-born designer's collection. Despite the varied silhouettes, it was still cohesive and classy.
Photos by Mark Schwigen
My fave is the cropped sweater!
Photos by Mark Schwigen
Israeli-born Yigal Azrouël's signature aesthetic is expert draping and construction. I was blown away by the outerwear pieces and playful prints. The shoes paired with each look apparently looked much cuter than they felt, as one model brazenly took off her heels before continuing her runway walk. She probably broke about a thousand runway rules, which garnered her many smiles and applause.
Photos by Mark Schwigen
Photos by Mark Schwigen

October 17, 2014

#STLFW Emerging Designer Competition

Photos by Christopher Gibbons of Alive Mag
Saint Louis Fashion Week just keeps getting bigger and better! Next stop: the Emerging Designer Competition hosted by Brown Shoe Company at Union Station. My evening began with a special meet-and-greet with #STLFW local and guest bloggers at the architecturally-delightful Grand Hall. I wisely loaded up on tasty apps, as the evening was jam-packed with fashionable festivities:

For the first time, STLFW included a curated maker's market dubbed BUTIK. Featuring 25 innovative accessory and apparel designers, the marketplace was bustling with raw talent and shoppers. Project Runway alum Michael Drummond was among the vendors, with some seriously bad-ass pieces (harness, anyone?). Hyper Haute also showed her stunning pieces. I probably could have spent an hour looking at all the wearable art, but alas, I was on a tight schedule.

I am a huge fan of still-modeling presentations since you get to see each design up close, at your own pace. During the cocktail hour, STLFW's "Designers to Watch" each showed 4 looks from their collections. Congrats Truly Alvarenga on winning the People's Choice prize of $2500!
Michael Drummond, Truly Alvarenga, Trang Nguyen; Nasheli Ortiz
You know how people love to brag that they liked a celebrity "before anybody even knew who they were?" I will definitely be able to say that about some of the designers who shared their amazing work. Your girl was werking it backstage and got to chat with some of the designers before the show:

Wai Ming
The sweet Emily Brady Koplar described her collection as "versatile, fresh, and timeless." She designs for the professional woman who appreciates travel, attention to detail, and quality pieces. Her chic, ultra-fem pieces are ideal for a seamless desk-to-dinner transition.
Photo on left  by Mark Schwigen. Emily always looks so sophisticated with a hint of edge!
The ethereal silhouettes were stunning on the runway.
Photos by Mark Schwigen for Alive Mag. 
Jessie Liu
A San Francisco native (quick to let me know that I need to add San Fran to my list of must-see cities), Jessie was beaming backstage about showing her very first (!) collection in St. Louis. Her designs are "unique, fine, and couture at reasonable prices." The bold, whimsical prints have me amped to see where her budding career goes!
This collection was pure fun. My fave is the black and white top-so creative!
Photos by Mark Schwigen of Alive Mag
The charming Charles Harbison actually remembered me from our interview at NYFW, which made me feel all important. He reiterated how much he enjoys spending time with the Alive Mag/STLFW team (aww!), but that his schedule has been so packed that he hasn't had a chance to explore St. Louis yet. His innovative, eye-catching collection leaves no doubt that the future is bright for Mr. Harbison. He took home the runner-up prize of $3500 and is eager to take the next steps in his design career.
Charles Harbison with Laura George before the show
Menswear-inspired, with contrasting feminine 3-D floral accents? I think I would wear that middle outfit and floral crop-top everywhere, as those looks were clearly designed for me.
Photos by Mark Schwigen for Alive Mag.
I didn't get a chance to meet these designers in person, but their work speaks for itself:
I want that painterly, serene horizon sweater!
Remi Canarie photos by Mark Schwigen for Alive Mag
Collina Strada's leather accents and structural silhouettes embodied effortless cool.
Photos by Mark Schwigen for Alive Mag.
Daniella Kallmeyer walked away with the top prize of $15,000 presented by Brown Shoe Company. She looks forward to how the prize and mentoring will elevate her designs. Congrats!
Runway photos by Mark Schwigen; Check presentation photo by Brishen Lee for Alive Mag.

 PS-Don't worry y'all - my outfit photos will be up soon. :)