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.

Advertisements

Pub is Short for Public House

  Welcome to Frog’s Leap Public House in historic Waynesville, NC. 
Those of you who follow my Twitter or Instagram may have seen a pair of photos from my lunch earlier today: caprese salad and a hummus veggie plate. 

There are several notable things about this pub: 

1) It calls itself a public house. This is a gathering place for families and friends to feast and celebrate within rustic, comforting walls. 

2) They work and partner with several local, even family owned, gardens and farms to provide a natural ever-changing menu. 

Local Farmers and Partners

3) That ever-changing menu? It’s dated. Today’s menu was created on 7/31/15. They can only prepare what nature, and these local organizations, provide. 
4) The entire staff, from my waitress Anna to the head kitchen chef, is understanding, educated, and helpful with dietary needs. Whatever your restrictions or requirements are, they will take care of you with kindness. 

5) The food is good. I can’t believe how fresh everything was. And delicious, healthy, and satisfying to boot. 

 

Caprese Salad
 
I, for one, will definitely be frequenting this gem much more often. After all, on the same block is The Classic Wine Seller, and around the corner are many of my long-time favorite shops, including Fifi’s, The Jeweler’s Workbench, and Twigs & Leaves

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.