Monday, June 1, 2009

Wisconsin Fashion Week: A Recap

"I just don't get Bottega Veneta this season." No, I didn't hear that line spoken at Wisconsin Fashion Week, and yes, I really did read that line recently in The New York Times Style section (a stylist said that in an article and it made me laugh. Haha!)

Yes folks, Wisconsin Fashion Week has come and gone and most of you might be wondering: How did it go? It might not have been the Bryant Park crowd in their Marc Jacobs garb (discussing Bottega Veneta this season) and Valentino handbags, but our own fashion week went very well, thank you. Here's my take on this fashionable fiesta of events ...

Menswear, Stylista Competition, Womenswear Trend and Womenswear Premium Shows
Saturday at Overture Center was a veritable buffet of fashion: men's and women's looks were showcased throughout an all-day "Style District."

Saturday's midday menswear show featured fashions by Jazzman--and I must say, the sight of beautiful men didn't hurt the eyes, either! The male models were polished and did a nice job of showcasing the clothing. I wish that more local stores were represented--but then again, there's not much selection for LOCAL menswear! Perhaps next year more stores will get involved.

The Stylista Competition
was quite innovative and I wasn't sure what to expect. The show actually quite reminded me of the Hair Affair event held recently at Overture—models were styled with a full hair and makeup look, complete with a coordinating outfit.

The looks were more avant-garde/artsy than actual looks to wear out and about. After all, wearing white body paint with glitter on it might not be something one would wear out to the grocery store! Rosalee Eichstedt and Headlines Salon won the competition in the clothing and hair categories while Indulge Spa won for makeup. (See their creative looks in the slideshow!) By the way, I was a judge in the Fresh Faces Model Competition as well as for the Stylista Competition, and it was great fun to be a part of the events representing the magazine.

Nighttime brought my favorite part--womenswear! The night was split up into two parts: a trend portion, which showcased youthful, edgier and more affordable lines. The premium portion, held later, was a mix of evening/special-occasion wear, handmade frocks and pricier brands and stores.

Some notable collections:
Maverick Clothing by Kayla Garland
was an edgier line—looks were layered, and black and red was the dominant color theme. Most of the looks were worn with ripped leggings and featured recycled elements in the clothing. Models sported faux-hawks and red lips.

Vintage S.E.X.Y. was cute, using recycled/vintage looks to make new looks—like a cowgirl outfit with a plaid shirt and denim skirt.

Fred Boutique from Milwaukee sells celebrity-inspired fashions for affordable prices and their collection was put together quite nicely: models had beautiful jewelry to go with each look and fun, colorful shoes.

Daria Karaseva and Premiere Couture showed special-occasion dresses. Karaseva's were constructed of silks and taffetas; Premiere Couture can't be beat in their selection of gorgeous wedding dresses in lace and silk.

Jessica Catherine's (whose things I always love) line was cocktail dresses constructed of dupioni silk, all perfectly ladylike with a touch of sex appeal. She favors a streamlined silhouette that shows off a woman's curves—but incorporates a fun detail in each dress. That might be a yellow chiffon ruffle down the front of a navy halter dress or a chiffon multicolored scarf stitched on to a navy strapless dress. Her last two looks (amazingly!) were wedding dresses—both for the fashion-forward bride. The first was a strapless column dress of white dupioni that transitioned into a fitted cascading chiffon ruffle skirt—a gorgeous silhouette. The second was a white dupioni halter dress with an A-line skirt that was gathered in beautiful folds randomly throughout the skirt. One could see the dresses in color on a celebrity at an awards ceremony. I'm just saying :)!

J LaMore and Twigs both put on impressive shows that were incredibly polished and cohesive—these were two of my favorites.
LaMore's show started with an amazing performance by Native American Art Shegonee and his daughter. The performance kicked off LaMore's themed collection of boho/tribal looks in everything from maxidresses to rompers. Models strutted down the runway with genuine Native American artifacts like bows and arrows, drums and more. All of the artifacts were borrowed from Katy's American Indian Arts.

Twigs' look was South Beach prep mixed with touches of tribal influences as well. That meant bright, vibrant prints, safari looks and metallic touches in shoes, jewelry and handbags.
I was especially impressed by Twigs' show because they did what big-name designers when they show their lines during Fashion Week: transition looks in a way that they flow seamlessly together. It's hard to explain here, but that usually means the designer shows looks in order from casual to eveningwear, all the while tying each outfit strategically together so it flows into the next look. For example, Prada might show an wool trenchcoat, followed by a wool skirt suit followed by a wool jumper—each look ties strategically into the next. And yet the looks are differentiated by a pop of color or something else that sets it apart. I thought Twigs did this nicely.

I hope that Wisconsin Fashion Week can thrive next year and become an even better event with more attendance. Saturday's daytime menswear show was sparsely attended so perhaps grouping all of the shows (mens- and womenswear) together might work, or showing menswear on a different day of the week might up the attendance. Like I said, who can't resist looking at the beautiful men?! More people should get in on that!

But seriously, Kristi Moe did a good thing for the Wisconsin fashion community by bringing together people that care about fashion, like to have a good time—and more importantly, want to host an exciting celebration in a city that's typically known for the Farmers' Market and the state Capitol. We might not be evaluating the latest in Bottega Veneta's spring/summer 2010 collection like the editors of Vogue do at Bryant Park—but hey, we can still have a little fun with fashion, too.

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