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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Charlotte International Fashion Week

What a difference a year makes! Anthony Simmons, the producer of this three day fashion extravaganza is in his fifth year of bringing new and emerging designers to Charlotte. Last year I was busy doing commentary behind the scenes interviewing designers, guests, models, other stylists and anyone wearing an ensemble that caused me to turn my head. This year I had the opportunity to be front and center to the runway! I was so close to the runway and the models strutting up and down that I not only saw some incredible fashions but models twitching and sweating, along with a few too many exposed body parts! I was drunk on fashion, salivating from much of what I saw, leaving me in a daze of euphoria.

Charlotte actually hosts two fashion weeks completely different from one another, one more local fashion and the other international. It was a welcome change to see what Anthony brought to the table with the international viewpoint. He is now bringing in designers from different parts of the world, rebranding what was Charlotte NC Fashion Week to include international designers and changing the vibe (and the name) of the show to Charlotte International Fashion Week.

The show features emerging international designers like Katarina Cvitkovic, who is this years winner of the Young Designer competition of the Europe Future Fashion Showcase. Katarina gained her experience from working for the fashion house of Marni and Gianesare Conca as Assistant Creative Director. I loved her creative simple designs that incorporate hand stitched puckered seams around the neck and arms of the garments. Her collection was primarily in soft watery sea tones of greens, neutrals and blues.

Another designer, who began her career in Southeast China, was Vanni Wang. At 18 years old she began teaching students in China how to sew and manufacture. Within a few short years Wang established one of the largest facilities of high fashion manufacturing. After 25 years she has moved to the United States with her family to continue her design work. She designs with the finest materials from Asia and Europe and uses them to combine elegance and couture to all her hand sewn gowns. Her work is truly breath taking, with attention to detail like I rarely see.

Among many of the returning designers was Alana B Couture, Tsvety McAuliffe and Bill Evans. All three designers continue to grow and expand their creative process and quality of workmanship. Once again, Bill Evans wowed me with his playful menswear designs worn by women. Last year he did smoking jackets and this year it was tweed suiting. Most of the jackets were oversized and the pants were high waisted with long zippers, detailed lining, buttons and rich fabrics.

I would have to say my favorite designer was Alice Andrews Designs, who offers art to wear. She began her career in textile arts as a draper for Hollywood films and commercials. It was later that she transitioned into hand printed fabric and felt. She has continued to perfect this into an eco couture concept. She offers sustainable wearable art by integrating wool fleece and natural fabrics into one of a kind garments. I could not get enough of the hand died silk dresses that look so sophisticated, and comfortable to boot!

I have to say choosing the Blake Hotel as the venue was perfect for the expanding crowds. One of the trends I see happening is an emcee or host that introduce designers from behind the stage and uses the deejay as the front man. Other notable changes was the audience opportunity to vote for the best model walk for both men and women. It reminded me of a cattle call, but obviously entertaining. Great reconnecting with old friends and fun meeting a few new folks in the process. Downtown Charlotte is a lot of fun. Next year I will plan on attending the other fashion venue to see what it is all about.

Look for my other blog this week about my trip to Scarlet Plus Boutique in Charlotte. Owner Todd Albaum is doing some really cool things!

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