First person fabulous: Roxy Rabb

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I first met local jewelry designer Roxy during Fashion Friday at the Birmingham Public Library and am so excited that she showed at this year’s Birmingham Fashion Week (BFW)! Her craftsmanship (featuring materials such as leather, hammered silver, and semi-precious stones like coral, smoky quartz and turquoise) is amazing, and this conversation is long overdue. She’s yet another example of the fabulous talent we have right here in the state, and if you’re in the market for unique statement jewelry and accessories I hope you will check out her pieces.

How’d you get started? It’s been 10 years. At first I just did it to play around and do something for distraction because I had little kids at home. I’ve always loved making things, and making something out of something else. When my kids were really little I made all their clothes. As they grew up I started dabbling with jewelry and I loved it. People are like “How long have you been doing this?” FOREVER, is what it feels like.

Do you design full-time? No. I eventually would love to solely survive on my jewelry business and to be able to help more people in the community by hiring them. That’s my dream: to have a substantial business. I teach classes for a lot of techniques and I enjoy that. I’ve also been working on the Betsy Prince Charity Bazaar every moment I’m not with the kids, getting things ready for that. We have ten racks full of gently used or never worn donated clothing, tons of shoes and accessories, and more scarves than I’ve ever seen donated. It’s an exciting night. [The Bazaar will be held May 2-3 and benefits the Breast Cancer Research Foundation of Alabama For more info, click HERE.]

Her inspiration? You know, I don’t have one particular thing. Sometimes I look at a bead or and I just think “This is how I’m gonna do it.” I’m visual and have tons of ideas floating in my head. I might see one bead and an entire piece comes together, and then when I sit down to make it, it changes.

How’d you get involved with BFW? I worked with Elizabeth Singleton; she was named an Emerging Designer last year. So she was the up and coming designer this year. One of her favorite models is a friend of mine, and one thing just led to another through talking. I offered [to provide jewelry] and she readily accepted.

She sent me her mood board and pictures of the fabrics and told me what her inspiration was. So I made double the pieces that she needed just because I didn’t know what would go for sure. But I had certain pieces that I knew for sure she’d use. I had a lot of vintage, big glass pearls and just some unusual pieces. I had these giant copper beads, lots of vintage golds, blushes and coppers which went along with her color board so I thought it’d be perfect.

What was the day of the show like? I was excited, I was nervous, I was apprehensive. My heart was pounding as the first girl turned the corner, and I was nervous for Elizabeth too. But it was amazing! Elizabeth did a great job. I was so incredibly excited that I could’ve jumped up and down and screamed, but I just sat there quietly and took pictures. (Laughs)

Why do you think BFW is so important to the Birmingham “scene”/fashion industry? I think it’s important becausea lot of people don’t know how to market themselves. The opening night of BFW was all about up and coming local designers. Everybody kind of needs help in the beginning. I think it promotes that camaraderie between artists and that’s what we need. There’s enough to go around for everybody. There shouldn’t be cattiness or extreme competition. No two people think the same. I think we need to have each other’s backs – we’re all artists. I think BFW promotes that.

Roxy’s pieces can be found at Betsy Prince in Brookwood Village, Harper Lane (Riverchase Galleria and at Huntsville’s Parkway Place Mall), at Gallery One in Montgomery and via her Etsy shop 7th Avenue Turquoise. Prices range from $20-$500 depending on the location. She also designs specialty pieces for weddings and accepts custom orders. Also, if you’re interested in learning how to make jewelry you can take one of her classes at Bead Biz in Helena (check the website for class schedules and sign-up information).

Images courtesy Roxy Rabb

Shop ’til you drop at Fashion’s Night Out

If you love fashion like WE love fashion, then make room in your social calendar for Fashion’s Night Out, a night of global fabulosity initiated by Vogue, the Council of Fashion Designers of America, the city of New York and NYC & Company to promote and strengthen the fashion industry.  Designers, models, retailers, shoppers and anyone who’s anyone in the industry will unite in the name of style at events around the world on Thursday, September 6.

Celebrations are planned at several locations locally. Brookwood Village will host a fashion extravaganza consisting of a show (featuring local personalities) and exhibits during Brookwood Live.  Proceeds will benefit the Junior League of Birmingham’s community projects. 

The Summit has celebrations planned as well; Saks Fifth Avenue will present a fall fashion preview, makeovers (and goody bags!) and more.  Belk at The Summit will showcase its own fall fashion with free train cases for the first 100 guests, treats from Dylan’s Candy Bar and Magnolia Bakery and Serendipity 3’s famous frozen hot chocolate, and the chance to win a VIP trip for two to Charleston’s Fashion Week 2013.

And retailers on 18th Street in Homewood present FNO Homewood, “a fabulous block party offering food, fashion and fun”; click HERE for more information. Be sure to look for Birmingham Fashion Week‘s tents during FNO; they will be offering a chance to win a VIP package to BFW 2013.

Be prepared to party in the name of fashion from 6-9 PM at all locations, and dress to impress!

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The Last Word on Birmingham Fashion Week 2012

Only for the love of fashion would I stand up for three nights' straight.

One blistered heel. Ten cramped fingers. Three nights in a 40″ by 140″ tent in make-your-teeth-chatter-and-knees-knock weather. 

No,  I didn’t spend the past few nights camping; I covered the second annual Birmingham Fashion Week, with a portion of the proceeds benefitting Camp Smile-a-Mile and Alabama Forever.  It was my first fashion week anywhere, EVER and what I learned in the tent is that next year, I’ll make sure we have seats. I didn’t rock shades a la Anna Wintour, and I wasn’t so much of a rube that I held up numbered cards to rate the designs, but every night I was left breathless by the energy, the generosity, and the sheer creativity I witnessed from members of the beauty industry, the models, the designers, and the audience.

It may not be New York, but then why would we want it to be?  Not to get on my soapbox, but I’ve lived here long enough to grow tired of the comparisons between Birmingham and just about every other city.  It was nice to see us step up and (literally) strut our stuff for a change.

“It’s hard to show your inner heart and be judged,” BFW co-founder Heidi Elnora admitted before the finale began.  Although she was referring to the pieces preparing to march down the runway, she could have been talking about any of the million other dreams people have but never follow through on because they’re afraid.  As Hayden High School art teacher Amy Cutcliffe emphasized, “Everybody has something [to share creatively].” BFW gave many – myself included – an opportunity to do that.

Was everything about the event perfect? No.  But that’s not the point.  The show’s mission – to bring together our community – delivered. There was pageantry, there was drama, and for three nights, people from different ages, backgrounds, aesthetics and perspectives commiserated and celebrated in the name of fashion.  Not to be missed: Brandon Wayne giving us FASHION as he emoted down the catwalk, Ashley Davis’ perfected “smize,” and Marcella Bailey’s infectious cheering from the sidelines. I’m no Pollyanna, but I left feeling that some very talented people brought everything they had to give and left it on the catwalk. 

I, for one, feel richer for it…and am already marking my calendar for BFW 2013.

Menswear and Vintage Looks Close Birmingham Fashion Week

It wasn’t all about the ladies at Birmingham Fashion Week.  After an earlier showing of menswear by Southern Proper and Prophetik, local men’s clothier Shaia’s showcased several looks perfect for gentlemen with made to measure taste.  From their natty three piece and double-breasted suits to the infusion of color in the casualwear, there is no need for the fellows to fall back on blue button-downs and khakis come spring.  I especially  appreciated the purple gingham shirt, deep purple knit tie, and grey suit combination (a similar version was spotted on New York Giant Mario Manningham at the Grammys last night).

Headlining designer  Gerard Maione (one half of What Goes Around Comes Around NYC) gave us vintage chic set to a bossa nova beat of Mais Que Nada.  1970s-era glamour was on display with scarlet caftans and jade green tunics fit for the resort and separates for the office (accented with tasseled belts, silk ascots, and fabrics featuring paisley prints or gold thread).

Project Runway Season 8’s Christopher Collins’ black jumpsuit, Leona Collection’s chain-print, lace-up back, yellow sundress and Gus Mayer’s haute pink one shoulder cocktail dress all would give anyone’s wardrobe an edge.

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Stay tuned for my final word on BFW 2012!

All images courtesy of and copyrighted by Lynsey Weatherspoon Photography

Straight from the Birmingham Fashion Week Runway: Kaylon Nichole

Kaylon Nichole wearing What Goes Around Comes Around, BFW 2012

Kaylon Nichole Brooks, 16, is from Lilburn, Georgia and has been modeling for 5 months.  We caught up with Kaylon and her mother, Stacey M. Cameron, just after Birmingham Fashion Week’s finale Saturday night.

How did you prepare for BFW?  “[By] asking my mom lots of questions about what I needed to do better [on the runway], practicing in my kitchen, and looking up videos on YouTube [which showed how to walk the catwalk].”

What do you think about as you stroll the runway?  “[Walking] clears my head and soothes me; it’s a relieving feeling.”

Any dream designers you’d like to work with?  “Versace!  Their stuff is so different; you know Versace when you see it.  They’re iconic; [wearing their designs] says that you’ve made it big.”

Do you have an agent?  “My mom! [Laughs]  She’s my ‘momager.’ ”

Okay, Mom, what did you think of the show?  “She did amazing!  I’ve been trying to get her to do it!”  Kaylon cut in, “My mom used to say I wanted to model secretly because I used to watch America’s Next Top Model all the time.  She told me then I’d model one day, but I didn’t believe it.  She finally convinced me, and I love it.”

She had the following advice for aspiring models: “Do your research.  Try to learn from the best, and you have to practice.  And, exercise and take care of your body.” 

How does she balance the demands of schoolwork with her budding career?

“My mom keeps me on track.  It is a struggle at times but she lets me know that school comes first.”

Images courtesy Lynsey Weatherspoon Photography

Friday Night Fashion at BFW 2012

Following the Emerging Design and Rising Design Star competitions, last night’s Birmingham Fashion Week presentations (hosted by Tara Gray) built on Thursday evening’s momentum and brought us looks from local boutiques Theodora and Stella Blu,  European drama from Iota, Prophetik’s ecochic sensibility, and streamlined sophistication from by SMITH.

Iota Westenburg’s luxurious couture wraps, capes and coats are made of “durable, renewable, recyclable, bio-degradable” skins with fur and shearling accents.  Designed by Machteld Schrameijer, each opulent piece featured special detail – either lace insets, tapestry paneling,  or seaming – in rich colors such as rust, aubergine, chocolate and snowy white.  Her hooded evening coat with lace, eyelet and beading was especially beautiful.  With background music including the Lara’s Theme  from Dr. Zhivago, Schrameijer’s presentation put me in the mind of  being bundled up for an elegant sleigh ride across the snow.

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Next up was Smith Sinrod’s line by SMITH, which I found to be sophisticated and polished.  Sinrod  pairs unexpectedcolors and rich silks together in a lovely way; the woman who wears her line must be bold and confident.  I think her line could be worn by women of various ages without making the wearer look too young or too matronly, which can be difficult for a designer to achieve.  by SMITH featured separates and dresses that would make it easy for one to get dressed quickly and feel very pulled-together.

Headlining designer Jeff Garner of Prophetik closed the evening with a short film on the ethical design process and both fencing and dancers on the runway (although not all at once).   Prior to the show Garner noted that the audience would see “a lot of romance and…dramatic flair” and he definitely delivered.  His hemp silk blends and Civil War-era silhuoettes embody his social conscience and upbringing in Tennessee (Garner does not own a television).   His pieces featured light colors and soft fabrics and he showed multiple looks for both women and men. Prophetik can be purchased locally at Manhattan South and will even be seen on an artist at the Grammy Awards tomorrow night (I’d give away who’ll be wearing his gown but you’ll have to stay tuned for our Grammys coverage on Monday!).

Images courtesy of Lynsey Weatherspoon Photography

Emerging Designers and Rising Stars Shine at BFW 2012

Last night was another whirlwind of fashion as emerging and established designers and local boutiques took to the stage.  Particularly impressive last night were the creations from the Emerging Design competition (featuring under and post-graduate designers) and the Rising Star Design Challenge (featuring junior high and high school designers).  Sharp tailoring and attention to detail were hallmarks from Elizabeth Singleton’s romantic peplum-waist cocktail looks and fitted evening dress.  We also appreciated the strong perspective shown by Chanelle Clark’s hippie-chic homage to the 1970s. 

The innovative up-and-comers in the Rising Star Design Challenge crafted clothing from items including sheet music, moss, twigs, stretch banadges, and tissue paper.  Hayden High School had several entries from its art department, including a pine needle and pine cone creation by Annie Strong, featuring a fringed skirt and corset top.  Annie was one of the students who moved on tonight’s finals.   Amy Cutcliffe, Hayden High’s art teacher, was extremely proud of her students’ efforts and was excited to participate in BFW 2012.

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“It’s definitely working as a way to get people interested [in design].  All of the teachers have gotten really involved too,” she said, pointing out Hayden’s vice principal, an English teacher and school librarian. 

Judges from last night’s competition included Joe O’Donnell (B-Metro), current Miss Alabama USA Katharine Webb, and public relations maven Krista Conlin (KC Projects). Winners from both contests will be announced this evening.   The 2012 Emerging Designer will receive a $1000 prize sponsored by 90/10.  Three winners will be selected from the Rising Star Design Challenge, with prizes sponsored by Mercedes Benz.

Images courtesy Lynsey Weatherspoon Photography

Who Wore What Where: Birmingham Fashion Week

From what I’ve seen come down the catwalk, come Spring we will all be wearing (or avoiding) high-low hems, pleated maxi skirts and palazzo pants, romantic sheer blouses (but perhaps not sheer enough to expose our lingerie, as was shown),  and tailored shorts.   But the high fashion isn’t just on the runway at BFW 2012.  I’ve spotted super-chic attendees in colored denim, one shoulder embellished tunics, faux and genuine fur vests and short jackets, at least one fascinator, and amazing footwear: booties, glam platforms, and of course, a Louboutin (or ten).  

Who was the most fashionable?  There were SO many to choose from, but I just had to talk to the very chic Miss Cates Lyman, age 6, who attended Birmingham Fashion Week’s Friday shows with her mother, Elisabeth Lyman.

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Who picked out your outfit?  My mama. [smiles]

Why do you like it?  “Because my mama has a matching one…and because it has pockets!”

What’s your favorite color?  “Pink.  It’s a happy color!”

What do you want to be when you grow up? “A movie star!”

Is this your first fashion show?  “No ma’am.  I’ve been in one.  This is my third,” she informed me.

Cates’ mother provided additional details regarding her outfit: the Milly multicolored striped mini dress is from Village Sportwear, and was purchased so they could match on Palm Sunday.  The silver sequined vest is from SNAP KIDS apparel in Crestline Village; Cates’ red tights are from Target, and her red leather, buckled Mary Janes are from Christine’s in Mountain Brook Village.

Images courtesy Lynsey Weatherspoon Photography

Lights, Camera, Fashion: BFW 2012

Laura Kathryn for Birmingham Fashion Week 2012

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

Laura Kathryn for Birmingham Fashion Week 2012

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:

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Stay tuned for more coverage!

All images via Lynsey Weatherspoon Photography for Birmingham Fashion Week 2012

Eighth Grader Debuts at Birmingham Fashion Week

Pizitz Middle School student Lucy Bailey walked her first runway like a seasoned pro in Birmingham Fashion Week’s Rising Design Star competition last night. Twenty young fashion designers showcased pieces crafted from materials straight out of a Project Runway challenge, utilizing garbage bags, bubble wrap, coffee filters, feathers, pine cones, doilies and duct tape. Wearing a drop-waist party dress made of pink, yellow, and orange plastic ribbon designed by Greer Micelli, the Cynthia Bailey model search finalist spoke with me about her first foray on the catwalk.  She was accompanied by her mother, Shannon Bailey, and grandmother Marcella Bailey.

How’d it feel to walk the runway?  “It was exciting! The cameras flashing and the [noise of] crowd…I loved it! And I got to meet Miss Alabama [USA 2012; Katherine Webb]!”

How long did hair and make-up take tonight?  “About an hour and a half, ” mom Shannon Bailey shared.

Describe your dress (made of what is commonly used for balloon streamers) in one word: “Curly!” [laughs]

How was the Cynthia Bailey Model Search experience?  “It was really fun.  Being [chosen] as a winner was really surprising.”  Lucy was chosen as the fifth finalist on the last day of the competition last month and will compete in Atlanta in May.  At stake: a one-year modeling contract, photo spread, and $10,000 prize.  This was the second modeling event Lucy has participated in.

Although Miss Micelli’s innovative dress was not selected to advance in the Rising Design Star competition, both Lucy’s mother and grandmother were very pleased with Thursday night’s events.

The Bailey Family after the show. Courtesy Lynsey Weatherspoon

“I thought the whole night was fabulous.  It’s nice they let the young kids get involved,” said Shannon, who also felt the production was good for the city’s image.

“[Everything] was very professional,” added Marcella.  “And we’re very proud of Lucy!”

Stay tuned for more coverage of Birmingham Fashion Week and updated photos courtesy of Lynsey Weatherspoon Photography!

Images courtesy of Shannon Bailey and Lynsey Weatherspoon

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