Asheville Fashion Week – Part 1

On Thursday night at the Altamont Theater in Asheville, NC dozens of people find their seats 4 and 5 rows deep surrounding a runway. The dim lighting and club mix beats filled the air with a palpable anticipation.

Modeling the Hattitude collection from McKinney Gough, Day 2 of AFW, courtesy of Asheville Fashion Week Facebook page

Over 100 models take to the runway, showcasing looks from local designers McFarland, McKinney Gough, Southern Charm/Charmed, Deirdre Blume, Tasha Lief, Runway Ready, Chapeaux by Simone, MG&B, and Diamond Outdoors.

Thursday’s most impressive surprise was the debut collection designed by a pair of local 16 year old girls, MG&B. Their designs are fun, colorful, and bold. A white knit dress with spoons on the front, a green chiffon ball skirt with a black bodice, and a fun mix-print crop top and skirt were crowd favorites (based on the amount of cheering).

On Friday night at the Millroom of Asheville Brewing, The crowd was larger, the runway staggered in a Z shape, and the lights were pulsating color-changing orbs. Collections shown included Sacred Garden by Anna Gordon, Tricia Ellis, a reprisal of Diamond Outdoors and Deirdre Blume, KatDog Couture, Legends of Hollywood retail, Wildflower Bridal with accessories from Uber Kio and Hatchett Creative Group, and Xen by Rachele swimwear.

Models for Xen by Rachele after the show, courtesy of AFW Facebook page

Friday’s presentation was phenomenal. From casual date night looks by Diamond Outdoors to opera-worthy ensembles by KatDog Kouture, to fairy-tale wedding inspirations by Wildflower Bridal, there was something for everyone on the runway.

What these two incredible nights showcased wasn’t just fashion: it was the creative soul of Asheville. Produced by Gage Models and Talent Agency, which created Chattanooga and Knoxville fashion weeks, the models of Asheville were guaranteed a spot on the runway. These were real men and women of real proportions from petite to traditional model to plus size wearing real clothes from local and talented designers.

This afternoon begins the last day for Asheville Fashion Week with the children’s collections, and tonight is the Grand Finale at the Renaissance Hotel.

Author’s Note: I am honored to bear witness to these historic event. I am blessed to have found my path as a fashion journalist in the same time as the blossoming of Asheville’s Fashion community. Special thanks to model and stylist extraordinaire Sarah Merrell for making Asheville Fashion Week a reality.

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Costume Drama Delivers

Summers in Asheville, NC are nothing short of alive. From the street performers to the purple comedy bus to the PubCycle, Downtown Asheville has a thriving energetic ambience, defined by the Artistic Community. Asheville Community Theater is but a part of the growing Fashion Scene in Asheville, having contributed by creating and hosting its signature annual fundraiser for the last 4 years: Costume Drama: A Fashion Affair.

It’s a fundraiser, a fashion show, and a fun competition with audience participation. This year, the event was expanded and sold out. A pre-party, a silent auction, four categories of runway, voting, a post-party, and silent auction on the very costumes from the runway.

“[This event] shows Asheville talent. The designer is a pastry chef. No matter the day job, people have hidden talents,” says model Gessi Boyd in the green room backstage.

The four categories of competition were Christmas in July, Nature, Tape, and Inflatables. 

 The Christmas in July category was full of breathtaking, angelic, and magical constructs, from Olivia Mears modeling her own red and gold wrapping-paper Tree Topper with mobile white angel wings to McKinney Gough’s blue, silver, and white Nutcracker, to Susan Vonceil’s candy-cane striped poolside pinup.

Susan Vonceil's creation Model: Sarah Merrell Photo: Hannah Silberman

Susan Vonceil’s creation, modeled by Sarah Merrell photo by Hannah Silberman

The Nature category was definitely a crowd favorite, featuring woodland warrior fairies, dragonflies, garden wardens, and an ocean goddess.

Caroline Williams entry, modeled by Gessi Boyd

Caroline Williams entry, modeled by Gessi Boyd, photo from model’s FB page

The gown is a gorgeous blue and white goddess dress, with cascading ruffles at the mermaid hemline remniscent of waves cresting on the beach.  The bodice is constructed of pearls on one side, bringing to life Caroline Williams’ vision of “surf and elegance.”

Despite Gessi’s nerves of her first runway (ever), she felt “empowering, exposed, and freeing” in the gown.

The Tape category was interesting, to say the least. Designers were challenged to use tape to construct their designs. (If you’re anything like me, your mind goes to duct tape or scotch tape.) The creativity presented here is nothing short of inspiring, from VHS and Casette tape flapper dresses to painted painter’s tape fairies to caution tape tulle ballgowns.

The papparazzi dress, by Stephen Lange,  constructed of light reflection tape materials, looked like something Lady Gaga would wear (if she hasn’t already).

The most whimsical category, inflatables, presented the most memorable creations and characters. From Charles Josef’s balloon bridesmaid to Sheila Thibodeaux‘s lionfish to Marla Looper‘s jellyfish, ensemble after ensemble left the audience excited and craving more.

The house was packed, warm, and filled with applause and laughter as the Category winners were annouonced: Danielle Chaboudy & Sue Ellen Black with their golden tree-topper (a month in the making) took Christmas in July, Olivia Mears with her woodland fairy took Nature, Sally Garner took Tape with a VHS film party dress, and Carina Lopez with her doctor’s glove cocktail dress took Inflatables.

Applause, laughter, and nervous indecision filled the air as the audience took one final vote for best in show. Christmas in July, modeled by Jessica Robin Riley took home the victory.

All four of the winning designs are currently on display through Saturday, July 18 at Bellagio Everyday in Downtown Asheville.

Final Semester? Graduation? So soon!?

Sorry it’s been a while, but I’ve been very busy. So here are some updates:

This is my last week interning with Clear Channel Asheville. I learned a lot, made great connections, and even managed to leave with an audition reel. I’ve also freshened up my skills in XHTML and CSS coding within Adobe Dreamweaver.

My photography skills have increased dramatically this semester, photos to appear soon! My lighting techniques still need work, but I am ten times better than I was in January.

My acting final seems to be going well, despite a battle with two GI viruses back to back. Present preliminary to professor tomorrow, he sees it again the day of finals. Which are next week! I can’t believe this semester has literally flown by!

Monday, I take the GRE, which I only started studying for yesterday! Many thanks to Olivia Bellamy for giving me her prep book!

My other two classes are going well, and Wind Song will finish strong with a final episode of season one on Sunday, May 6. Hopefully this fall, it will return for season two with Stefani at it’s head and a new co-host by her side.

Hunger Games Midnight Premiere in Asheville

As many of you know, I am interning with Clearchannel Asheville. This week, the Hunger Games had it’s midnight premiere all across the country. Guess what? I Was There! But you won’t find me in all the pix on the website….because I took all the pix on the website! That’s right, an entire costume portfolio is displayed for all of you to see!

Hunger Games Midnight Premiere – The NEW Star 104.3.

The Intern? I’m so much more than that!

As some of you may be aware, I’m interning at Clearchannel Asheville for my degree. I’m happy to help out. I know that the seemingly menial tasks given me take a load off the actual employees. I get it, I really do. But I’ve been there about a month, and other than my direct supervisor Aaron D’Innocenzi, almost no one is remembering my name. Or so it feels.

I am getting a full immersion work experience and learning “soft skills” necessary in a work environment. A lot of the people there curse worse than sailors, and I think it’s because radio personalities have to watch every word out of their mouths when that mic is on, so they don’t when they’re off air. I’m slowly getting used to this, but I personally do not curse often, or even on occasion, and it still tends to offend me. As of yet, I’ve only been hearing it in group conversations where I just happen to be doing my own work, minding my own business, thus I feel like I have no right to ask them to tone it down. If ever there comes a time when cursing is directed at me in a conversation, I feel like I then have the right to it. Friday, the company did a remote at Carolina Furniture Concepts to help the business gain, well, business. The topic of cursing briefly came up with Eddie Foxx, Aaron D’Innocenzi, and others in which I made my case for an opinion of distaste toward most topics/terms unsavory. My career counselor at my university said that I’m learning valuable skills that could not be taught in navigating the personalities and politics of a work environment. How do you think I’m handling it?

Caretaking

Wind Song’s Last Topic

Stefani and I talked about the importance of caretaking in almost every aspect of our modern lives. Native traditions across the country find it important to care for the environment, the animals, yourself, your village, and your family. So we challenged you, the listener, to do something to better someone’s life in some way.

What I’ve Done

I started my internship with clearchannel radio this week. I’m not sure what I expected, but organizing freebies from previous remotes was not it. Neither, really, was adding concerts to the site calendars. But I did it, and it actually did make a difference to the actually employed. Staying organized and reaching the audience was important.

Why does it Matter?

If we expect people to help us, we have to help others. Volunteering, interning, talking, listening. Being there. It makes a massive difference to the lives we interact with. So I once again charge you to do what you can to better a life.