#STLFW Wear It: Fashion Challenge

The Luminary on Cherokee St. is an incubator for artistic ideas. Photo c/o Monti Hill
The next show at Saint Louis Fashion Week was in a new format this year: a presentation hosted at The Luminary aptly called the "Wear It: Fashion Challenge." Unlike a traditional fashion show where each artist sends several looks down a runway, this event was comparable to an art gallery featuring live models. (In other words, very cool.) Onlookers were able to appreciate each look at their leisure while sipping cocktails and bopping to unexpected-but-enjoyable club hits. (Bone Thugs N' Harmony was among the musical selections, much to my delight.)

Ten emerging designers in St. Louis presented an outfit inspired by the artwork piece of their choice. At the end of the presentation, ALIVE Media Group and Stevens - The Institute of Business & Arts (one of my alma maters, represent!) awarded one designer with a $5000 cash prize. My blogger friends and I debated which designs we liked best, and our picks reflected what we would individually want to wear. Check out the contenders:

Michael Drummond
Project Runway alum and St. Louis native offered fierce competition with his stunning frock. At first glance, it is simply a gorgeous gown. Closer inspection, however, reveals a thoughtful, magnetic pattern with clever details and nods to famously tragic women. (Mia Farrow from Rosemary's Baby is on the dress, as is the late Sharon Tate who died in the same hotel where the movie was filmed.) His art inspiration? A condom reading, "men don't protect you anymore" on the wrapper by artist Jenny Holzer. (No way to sugar-coat that one.) He even used reflective fabric for the bodice - see how it gleams in the light?
Center photo c/o Monti Hill; Bottom photo c/o Michael Drummond
Nina Ganci
This was the only artist to use a male model, and the paint-splattered suit embodied wearable art. Her inspiration was artist DJ Kennedy. I didn't get a chance to speak with the designer for more background, but I enjoyed the color palette.
Photos c/o Monti Hill
AJ Thouvenot
Pop art meets the ocean with this underwater anti-princess. The artist's inspiration, Roy Lichtenstein's Drowning Girl, was clearly represented in the design. The ironic statement about Fashion Week was a snappy touch.
Bottom right photo c/o Monti Hill
Nasheli Ortiz
Inspired by Sarah Frost's Built, a captivating 3-D wall of household items, this artist designed a funky, textured dress that must have taken eons to make. The pictures don't really do it justice, as it was breathtaking in person.
Top right photos c/o Monti Hill
Qun Liu
Picasso's architectural style in his Seated Woman painting provided ideal inspiration for this artist's structural top and pants. The lines appear to be handpainted on the fabric, and the cropped knitwear adds a chic touch.The more I looked at this design, the more intrigued I was.
Top, middle, and right photos c/o Monti Hill
Destini Gamble
You know I'm a proponent of all things floral, so this remarkable headpiece had a definite "wow" factor. Based off Picasso's The Peasants painting, the designer's handouts explained that the headpiece she crafted represents healing, protection, and devotion. She also created a looseness to the jumpsuit to indicate comfort, as well as pointed shoulders to show strength.
Top right photo c/o Monti Hill
Barbara Bultman
This artist arguably had the most dramatic design, with a winglike gown adorned with fringe. She based the look off Wangechi Mutu's The End of Eating Everything.  It had a witchy vibe that I digged.
Right photos c/o Monti Hill
Alexis Cook
A colorful, three-dimensional flower embellished this simple white dress inspired by Dale Chihuly's Persian Ceiling. The design had a joyful feel to it that just makes you want to smile.
Middle and bottom right photos c/o Monti Hill
Leah Babette
Dark, edgy, and beautiful, I was a huge fan of this look. Created as an ode to Wim Delyore's gothic stained-glass windows, the harness and sparkly details marched right up to the costume-y line and didn't cross it. The flared pants, the bell sleeves - yes, please.
Bottom photo c/o Monti Hill
Tiffany Rae
Known for her outrageously cool shoe designs, this artist now designs clothing. The shoulder chain-sleeves were the right mix of hard and feminine. She was inspired by Van Gogh's Starry Night, and her look is one that would make a bold statement on an evening out.
Bottom right photo c/o Monti Hill
And the winner is. . .Nasheli Ortiz! Her keen use of textures was sensational. Very well deserved award!
Photo c/o Monti Hill
P.S. Thank you to the Midwest Influencer Network and Explore St. Louis for hosting me as a VIP blogger!


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