Nashville Fashion Week's celebration of nationally known designers alongside emerging indie talent is ambitious, but it doesn't have to be overwhelming. Here's our hit list of noteworthy designers to help you navigate your runway-hopping week.
NFW can boast snagging several iconic designers such as Betsey Johnson, who's been designing punk-girl get-ups since the 1960s, Ben Sherman, whose equally venerable menswear line has become synonymous with modish Oxford-cloth button-ups, and event headliner Christian Siriano, whose stint on Project Runway brought the phrase "hot tranny mess" into the collective consciousness circa 2008.
New York-based designer Sylvia Heisel grew up in Nairobi, and the influence of African textiles shows in the mixture of earthy tones and bold, almost neon colors. Expect lots of silk, attention to the body, and investment pieces that can be worn in a variety of ways for years to come.
Designer Steven Oo debuted his line of structural statement pieces during New York's Fashion Week last fall. He calls his work "knitwear architecture," a fitting description of the punk rock sweaters and futuristic silhouettes that dominate his design.
Amanda Valentine titled her Nashville-based line Valentine Valentine after a repetitiously named Danish ancestor. Drawing inspiration from offbeat vintage trends, lo-fi rock, high glamour and idiosyncratic nerdery, Valentine Valentine is for girls who want to lead the pack, not blend into it.
Jamie and the Jones is Jamie Frazier and Hannah Jones, a Franklin-based design duo that makes hand-embroidered, knit and crocheted designs that are sexier and more touchable than their scratchy 1970s counterparts. There's an "aw, shucks" foxiness about them, an Elly May-meets-Flashdance carelessly cool element that Jamie and the Jones gets just right.
White Rabbit, by Local Honey owner Shea Steele, is a distinctive mix of art school edginess layered with tons of style patterns and vibrant colors.
The designs in the Leona collection by Lauren Leonard evoke Southern girls eating cupcakes and sipping cocktails in pretty dresses with cinched waists and French braids.
Designer Anna Redmon named her line Norma Clare after her grandmother, and a current of vintage inspiration flows through all her pieces. The timeless, ladylike designs mix flowing drapes with tailored precision.
Coquette's vintage-inspired swimwear collection is a must-see, and modern classics by Melissa Tabor's local line shows the influence of her time working alongside such heavy hitters as de la Renta and Gucci.
Also featured are national labels that have Tennessee roots, such as the New York-based, Tennessee-born designer Julianna Bass. Her collection has strong silhouettes, and a 1980s-style over-the-top glamour, but with a touch of quirkiness to ground it in 2011.
MTSU graduate Loretta Jane's namesake line uses natural, touchable fabrics to create classic party dresses that won't go out of style after a few seasons of wear, and University of Alabama alum Brent Johnson and Mary Catherine Moody's luxury line Aman Stovall is fashion-forward couture at its most elegant.
Visit www.nashvillefashionweek.com for schedule times and locations.
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