This past weekend was a fashionable whirlwind, and I am just now recovering from all the glamour! I have so much to share with you, but promise to take it one step at a time :)
On Friday evening, I attended Tampa Bay Fashion Week's trunk shows, featuring pieces from five designers: Magenta by Wendy Ohlendorf, Cerulean Blu by Desiree Noisette, Be-Bops Custom Swimwear by Priscilla Kidder, Oscar de la Portilla Escandon, and Elizabeth Carson Racker Designs. I also got the opportunity to meet with each designer one-on-one the next morning, to get some insight into their collections and into their inspirations as well.
Magenta by Wendy Ohlendorf is Portland-based, but with Tampa roots - Wendy studied at the Art Institute of Tampa. Her love of vintage clothing fuels her belief that old textiles have stories and experiences just waiting to be reinvented. And so, she reinvents them, with an evident eye for detail, as some of her pieces are carefully hand-stitched.
Cerulean Blu by Desiree Noisette is based in downtown St. Petersburg, and prides itself in bringing paradise to the real woman, whether she's a size 0 or a size 24. Cerulean Blu is all about form and function, providing comfortable, breathable and stylish pieces. And Desiree is a dynamic woman, having studied accounting and law before finding her niche in the world of fashion. She even sketches her own prints, that make a beautiful transition from paper to fabric.
Be-Bops Custom Swimwear by Priscilla Kidder is based in Gulfport, Florida and is home to the diva-kini, a flattering swimsuit with a versatile waist that can be folded down and worn as a two-piece or unfolded and worn as a one-piece. Priscilla says she's been sewing since she was 14 years old - she launched her brand in 2008, and pays tribute to all body shapes and sizes with her custom swimwear.
I didn't get the chance to speak with Oscar de la Portilla Escandon, but the vibrant pieces from his collection were all I needed to understand his artisanal way with textiles, design and color. Oscar came all the way from Cuba for Tampa Bay Fashion Week - how lucky were we to have gotten the opportunity to get a taste of his designs?
Elizabeth Carson Racker Designs is based here in Tampa, and in her cozy boutique off of Florida Ave., Elizabeth is all about channeling soul in her latest collection. Her line emits a high-fashion vibe, while still catering to the comfort needs of the modern woman. Elizabeth strives to constantly develop and grow her soulful craftsmanship in each piece she creates
This year, Tampa Bay Fashion Week paid tribute to Kimberly Hendrix, a St. Petersburg-based designer known for her bohemian chic energy and style, who passed away last year after a battle with cancer. Guests were invited to celebrate her life and love for life by writing down what fashion meant to them on a leaf-shaped piece of paper, and add it to, what I like to refer to as, Kimberly's "tree of life."
I appreciated that Tampa Bay Fashion Week made the decision to go the trunk show route this year, rather than the typical runway route. The fashion industry is ever-changing, and especially here in Tampa, it's important to adapt to the needs of our local designers. TBFW did a fantastic job of that, by bringing the looks from each trunk show back to the rack for everyone to see, feel, and purchase.