Street Glam

I'm not even going to apologize nor beg your pardon for the lack of entries. This past couple of weeks have been, say a bit crazy for me. I'm in the process of moving to Washington D.C. and I'm dealing with a list of additional things that I can't unfortunately share with you guys at the moment. Instead, I'm going to attempt to update at least twice a week, or even more often with more elaborate entries on a range of topics all concerning with fashion. And by that I'm not just talking about clothes. So please bare with me and remember your comments, love letters, e-mails are always appreciated...and if you can't get enough of me, stalk on twitter @jimmydelastyle

On August the 21st, I attended "Street Glam" show in Downtown Silver Spring, Maryland. The burgeoning fashion district, which has a 440,000 feet of retail, food and entertainment served as the perfect location to showcase the brewing design talent in the area. An elongated vivid red rug that from far away looked like a red carpet sprawled across Ellsworth Drive. An ample stage was placed right by the backstage area, composed of steel tubes and thick black curtains around it. Mounting a fashion show outdoors can be challenging, since Mother Nature can throw a fit a times, but thankfully, after sufficient days of showers, the sky was clear for Street Glam to proceed. 

As part of my team, I brought along Ashley Emerson of ashemPR, and we managed to get photographer Justin, who I never worked before, but managed to get the shots that I wanted. After the show he told me that was his first fashion show, I guess implying we popped his "fashion" cherry, seems naughtily adequate. I'm glad he came along and contributed to part of this post.

As soon as I get to the location, I noticed a sea of people strolling nonchalantly along the sidewalk, some shopping, or enjoying the great food provided by various restaurants around. I'm not a big fan of crowds, specially in a location that I'm not familiar with, but working in fashion, that feeling of unfamiliarity fades away. There was a VIP reception on Ceviche House, located on the second floor. I arrived a bit late, but I decided to check it out anyways. The ambiance looked relaxed, there was a bar supplied with drinks that I did not need to looked at, and plush seats on one side of the room. On one corner, there was a white back screen printed with "Downtown: Silver Spring" logos all over it. I spotted the stylish guests posing and getting their pictures taken by a couple of photogs. A man in a dark suit by the name of Lawrence O'Neal seemed to be shot constantly, I later learned he was hosting the carpet. I spotted Sheri Bolden in a pale grey paisley printed dress from PDB Group Venture, one of the leading sponsors of the event. After seeing there was not much going on at the reception, I headed down to get on my seat. Then I see producer Maggy Francois in a beautiful light lilac jumper (her new assistant Nate Leon overheard me saying I was looking for her, then he personally proceeded me to her, two days later, I see him on the train, dude is cool).

Schuntel, Lynice owner of DMVntage, Me, and publicist Ashley Emerson
The unmistakably riveting sounds of ticking clocks marking the hours is heard on the background as a model in an oriental inspired up-do is forced into the runway by an older man, she's laying in the runway and slowly starts crawling, another model in a satin red dress comes into the scene and helps the model crawling get up. They both walk in tandem towards the middle, but on their way there, out of nowhere, this young lady seating in a front-row seat gets up and walks towards the model in front and pulls out a lipstick and delicately paints her lips. As soon as she finishes, three male models clad in black sprint from the end of the runway towards the model in front, each holding three black large bedsheets, they proceed to hover the model and act as a wall, covering much of her from the public. Another woman in the front-row hands the model in the red dress a shiny folded garment. The model steps into the covered area and helps her partner get into what seems to be a dress. Moments later, the sheets fall and reveal the initial model in a traditional red kimono. One of the male models sprints back to the end of the runway with all the sheets, as his other two counterparts help the girl in the kimono putting her shoes on. She bows and they all walk out. If for some reason you can't envision what I'm talking about, then click here and watch the video. 

The intro (as well as hair and makeup was done by Lillian Buie) attempted to tell a story, but the concept was slightly bizarre and not accurately executed. The oriental theme had little to do with the overall mood of the clothes presented that day, it was such a stretch of the imagination. The unprecedented participants from the front-row just added a conflicting factor to the story, which was attempting to bring the spectators into the fantasy of the tale. It ended up looking as if the make-up artist forgot to apply make-up to the model backstage and blatantly managed to do it on the runway disrupting the flow of the performance. It would have worked better for a certain designer with a certain theme. 

Booshie Designs opened up the show with a collection mainly composed of flirty, bold short dresses. The first one that came out was a printed metallic pink mini with a puff of orange tulle on the back, the minute the model stepped out, she looked like a joke, there was nothing sophisticated to the dress, and the tulle just looked like an after-thought to the whole design. This brings me to something Nina Garcia said on a previous season of Project Runway; short, tight and bright is the cheapest way to look. But not everything was lackluster. The floral motif shown on a few of the dresses, especially one in electric blue with rosettes printed all over, added a touch of femininity to the collection. There were three outstanding looks, one was a deep purple off shoulder with black paisleys on the edges, a black silk top paired with a white and black polka dot knee-length skirt and matching bow head piece, and a sexy white and black cocktail dress with a red pouf coming underneath, vaguely reminiscent of Lacroix, but strongly seductive on its own. 

There were also collections shown by two emerging boutiques, Ksara and Metamorphosis. Ksara boutique presented a collection of classy, yet sexy cocktail wear. I thought every look has a sophistication level, that any women, no matter her background, coul wear. Besides all the palm printed day dresses, what stood out the most was the evening wear. The strapless champagne dress with an asymmetrical cut and black lace on the edges was a home run, and the last look, a draped black dress worn with a cinched belt, did not only looked casual enough for lunch, but if styled differently can be worn to a night out. Metamorphosis is a boutique located  on the heart of Silver Spring, Maryland. I never been there, but according to their website, they offer an array of one of a kind hats, jewelry, and of course apparel. The first offerings from the boutique did not galvanize any interest to see the rest. The first dress was a cheaply rose printed day dress, and the next look consisted of a printed blouse with frills cascading down the neckline, worn with a vintage-looking dusty yellow-green cropped jacket with ruffles detailing on the collar. Just the clash of the two colors did not only lack sophistication, but looked fairly outdated. However, there were some signs of vitality on the rest. The reminding looks were decisively color-muted, it was a black parade of young women attempting to dress like their mothers. And that can go either way, depending how mothers dress these days. A faux leather inset tight pants worn with a corset like top, with a belt looked young, modern and fresh. And a black, slouchy trousers worn with a sleeveless top with frills on one side and waistline was one of my favorites, though it was identically reminiscent of what Raf Simons did for Jil Sander last fall, the look was polished and had a sense of ease. The major problem of the collection was the styling. The chains of pearls and those obnoxious hat pieces just aged the models, they just looked discordant with the modernity of some of the looks. 

Part of the show were two nationally known established businesses. New York & Company and Menswear House. I been to MH (Menswear House for short) just once, it might have been for an event one of my friends had to attend and I just went along as a sidekick, expecting nothing out of the ordinary. I remember seeing the whole two-level store filled with suits on mannequins on the foyer, shirts, ties and all kinds of shenanigans a middle age men would find in a store titled "Menswear House". I vividly remember perusing on the second floor and I noticed on the back, there were two lonely leather jackets, I tried the black one on, looked in the mirror and I noticed it looked a bit big on me, but I couldn't help but feel a bit like James Dean. I only needed a pair of aviators to complete the look. But that's a story for a different entry. I was expecting ill-fitting suits, but MH showed a batch of suits that looked fortuitously dapper on the hunky male models. There was a dark blue peak lapel two-button suit, a simple grey notch lapel suit, a nicely cut waistcoat worn with tailored pants and bowler hat, and a smoking black suit worn with a white shirt and silk ivory tie, the last one being the right option for a red carpet event. A vintage tee worn with a black leather jacket, jeans, and a waist-belt just looked so lackluster, it had no business on the runway.

New York & Company showed a fall collection decisively targeted for a young women's lifestyle. There were looks for the office, lounging, and going out at night. There was a lovely printed top, black skinny pants, and a classic trench. A light tan dress with frills cascading down the middle and around the hem worn with a cardigan seemed like the perfect solution for a work attire. I liked the nonchalance of a cotton grey top and leggings paired with a cardigan for hanging out at home, or even maybe a casual Friday rendezvous. My favorite (see below) was a black fringe dress, slightly reminiscent form Jil Sander for last fall/winter, but there is no denying, it's a sexy lil' piece. 

Minimal chic was perhaps what Elizabeth St. John had in mind for her line dubbed "Amore". She showed all kinds of flirty dresses, most of them featured a clean and simple silhouette in shades of pink, chocolate brown, pale orange, bright yellow, metallic blue, and deep purple. The colour palette was slightly inconsistent, all those tones from every color family did not cohesively synchronized into a harmonious spectrum. However, the designs looked facile and unbridled, great options for a woman with no drama nor frills. Furthermore, the perverse dark beauty from Thembe Designs resulted in such a contrast from the rest of the collections shown that day. There was something delicate and feminine about a draped gunmetal grey gown, yet I saw something ghastly eerie about it. And that could also be said for the rest of the collection, a light grey suit jacket, with a black cami underneath, festooned with a black rose on the chest, and a black and white printed draped gown with an exposed back. There was enough substance behind it that made one mentally search for an answer to such dichotomy. 

It's a common believe that the last act is the best one yet, and that was clear once the models came out. The last two designers to show were Kwab Asamoah from Kustom Looks and Kenny Flannagan. Kwab Asamoah, specializes in affordable made-to-measure suits for men and women. And by affordable I'm talking about suits from $700 to $2,500 according to his website. The suits he presented were precisely tailored, in a range from tan, silver and black. The cut of the pants were moderate compared to the tailored shorts he presented worn with a fitted two or three button jackets, tube socks and oxfords (according to the website, the suits are cut by master tailors in Bangkok, Thailand). The keen attention to the fabrication was visible in every look (you can even check out his extensive resources on fabrics on his website). His women's pieces which included a creamy peach cocktail dress, flared pink pants worn with a sleeveless ivory top with frills adorning the neckline, and an array of waistcoats worn with knee-lenght pants did not looked as strong as his menswear. 

Mr. Flannagan, is a designer that I'm quite familiar with. I seen his designs graced the pages of various magazines and I had the opportunity to attend his runway show for his opening of his boutique "House of Kas" at the Harbor. In this opportunity Kenny showed a batch of edited looks from his W.E.T line (with exceptional taste). Most of the looks he presented were also presented on his show at the Harbor, but that did not take away the fun, flirty, seductive and sexy spirit of his clothes. In addition, I thought the styling of the looks, this time were much polished and sophisticated since the last time I saw them on the runway. He opened up with a beautiful long sleeve camel colored dress with a satin bow adoring the neckline followed by a black fitted tee emblazon "I'm a KAS women" on the front worn with dark denim featuring a "K" on the back-pocket. One of my favorites men's look was this dark suit which at one point looked like denim and silk, casually worn under a white tee. (Sidenote: When one of the models came out wearing an unbuttoned shirt exposing a chiseled physique, women and some men in attendance went a bit bunkos. At one point, I thought somebody in the front row was going pull out cash out their pockets and make it rain). 

With designer Carlos Reaves, Ashley, and PDB Group's Sherri Bolden

After the show, as usual, it was pandemonium, people trying to take pictures, some were trying to get out, and others trying to get backstage. My team and I headed backstage, spoke to a few of the models, took some pictures, said a few words, and headed out. I'm glad I had the chance to attend the show and witness the bourgeoning design talent here in the DMV (DC, Maryland, Virginia). Let's hope next year I don't wait this long to wrap it up. 

Ashley and I walking out, check out that strut.