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

First Person Fabulous: Lynsey Weatherspoon

Lynsey Weatherspoon

Lynsey Weatherspoon, 27, is a freelance photographer and professor of public speaking at the University of Montevallo and Jefferson State Community College.  She recently chatted with SCDD about her unique sense of style, her photography work and the joys of living downtown.  Lynsey plans to spend her thirtieth birthday in Paris, which she feels is  “the best place for an artist to live or visit once in [his or her] life.”  Check out her website at

On her inspiration and working style:  My mom inspired me [to become a photographer]. She was my first photography teacher. I learned on a Minolta Film Camera.  I took one class at the University of Montevallo and went from there.  [When taking photos] I try to let the client get a feel for my personality first, and I try not to pose unless it’s needed.  There’s always a sense of art direction.

The biggest misconception about photographers?  I think most people believe that photography (or starting a photography business) is easy.   In my opinion it’s not.  It’s easy to buy a camera but it’s not easy to acquire skill.

Her personal style? I wear makeup when it’s necessary, but I don’t want anything to clog my skin so I don’t wear it every day.  I try to step out of my box every once in a while.  I do try to keep up with the latest trends but at the same I know everything is not for me.  I’m a jeans and tee shirt kind of person.  Jeans, tee shirts, oxfords and Chuck Taylors. Comfortable chic.  My mood [influences my look].  My go-to outfit is this suit I found at the Ann Taylor outlet in South Carolina.  Outlet shopping is, like the best thing ever.  Not only for clothes, but for shoes.

People would be surprised to know: That I own more than one pair of heels.   I wear them when necessary.

On being a naturalista:  I transitioned in 2009. I wanted to try something new, so I thought I’d start locs.  It was the best decision I could’ve made.  I just knew that I was doing the same thing, the same way every day with my hair. I don’t think my hair showed my true personality.  So I started transitioning in January 2009.  [I did the] big chop in July 2009 [and] started locing on October 2009. For me the whole reason I started [the process] was to learn patience. I knew there would be points where I either loved my hair or hated it but I wouldn’t call transitioning a challenge. I became a better person as far as [having more] patience. 

Tell us about a new beauty technique you recently tried:  [Do you mean] the painful beauty technique I just tried? I went to have my eyebrows threaded for the first time.  Though they look awesome, I wouldn’t suggest that the weak of heart to try it. As single tear dropped out of each eye [during the procedure].   I hope it lasts all the way to Classic weekend, because I’m not going back (laughs).  If it doesn’t then hey, at least I can say I tried it.  For $10, [it was worth trying once].

Trends Lynsey wishes would go away? For men:   Snap back hats.  They’re not fitted; they’re the old school snap backs.  They died for a reason. [And] wing tip loafers. Please make them die.  For women: Graphic tees with inappropriate slogans and sayings.

On living downtown:  Living downtown is the second best thing I could have done.  There’s  a vibe to downtown Birmingham.  You have to live here to understand.  Especially in my building, where we’re all artists.  Though I’ve been here 27 years, I finally feel like  Birmingham is home. Being in the mix of everything is a great feeling.

What’s Birmingham’s best kept secret?  Have you ever been to Reed Books on Third Avenue? That’s Birmingham’s best kept secret.  The owner is Jim Reed. It’s the holy grail of books.  You’ll find something new every time you walk in that place.

Any exciting plans in your future? I plan on going back to school next year to work on a PhD in Visual Communication and possibly going out of the country for my photography work.

Parting words of wisdom? Live out your dreams.  There’s no point in saying “I wish I would have,”  just go ahead and do it.

Image courtesy of Lindsey Griffin Photography

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