It was standing room only under the white tent and high-wattage lights set up in Pepper Place for the second night of Birmingham Fashion Week. Lesson number one? Don’t wear four inch, patent leather, pointy-toed mules to a fashion show where you’ll be shifting your weight on what’s basically a toothpick for 2 and half hours. By 7:10 PM my feet were begging for mercy. Tomorrow night? I’ll be in flats.
The night’s festivities began with a procession of entries from the college-level Emerging Designer and junior high and high school-level Rising Design Star competitions. Standouts included Travis Mackey, whose avant garde designs and attention to detail were different from anything else on the runway, featuring corset detailing, mutton sleeves and stark colors. Mackey advanced to the next phase of the Emerging Designer competition.
The night also featured selections from local women’s boutiques SOCA and Laura Kathryn. I LOVED the very wearable cheetah-print suit with short bottoms and apricot blouse, which will be perfect for summer date nights and cocktails.
Finally it was time for the featured designers: William Bradley (last year’s Emerging Design winner), Southern Proper and Annie Griffin. Bradley’s prairie-chic, flowing creations had the feel of vintage Ralph Lauren in the fabrication and silhuoettes. Bradley counts Chanel as a major historical icon and noted, “[I’m trying] to create a story.” The pieces had a very editorial feel; Bradley should concentrate on fabric choice and fit as he progresses. This year has been a whirlwind; his spring collection was picked up by Private Gallery and will be in their stores in May.
Southern Proper’s brightly colored, preppy accessories incorporated menswear from Peter Millar. The line is
available locally at Remon’s and at the Birmingham Country Club, and there are plans to partner with J. Crew on a men’s wedding bow tie line. [4:07 PM: I have edited this review to remove my previous enthusiasm for the line. After further reviewing Southern Proper’s website in detail today, I was dismayed to see a Cotton Pickin’-themed print. I can appreciate the seersucker and bucks look for men but I don’t support anything that harkens to “plantation chic.”]
Annie Griffin closed the show with feminine separates in muted solids and prints. The line also made use of color-blocking, which is a major Spring 2012 trend. The line is extremely wearable and appeals to women who appreciate the retro flair, the soft touches and laidback silhuoettes.
More looks from last night:
Stay tuned for more coverage!
All images via Lynsey Weatherspoon Photography for Birmingham Fashion Week 2012