The past week has been one of the most physically exhausting weeks of my life.
Good thing it’s been the fun kind of exhaustion.
Besides having back-to-back-to-back jean fittings all day every day ($27.50 for designer jeans really excites people – who knew?) and in general not sleeping well due to all the hubbub, I got to attend Birmingham Fashion Week.
Last year I was a complete newb (noob?) to the world of Runway Shows and Press Pits, and it was quite intimidating.
This year, though, I was cool. I was calm. I was okay.
I was so okay that I didn’t even pick out my clothes until five minutes before I left.
I was so okay that I requested an extra media pass to bring along my own personal photographer.
I was so okay that when I saw the emcee come out in a black sequined halter cropped jumpsuit, I was all like “yeah – I could totally pull that off.”
…which was the point that I realized my Okayness had turned into Delusion.
But the fact that my over-okayness convinced me to bring along Mary Jo to take awesome photos for me nearly made it okay that for one moment I considered wearing a black sequined halter cropped jumpsuit.
(You followed that, right?)
Mary Jo is an extremely talented homeschooling sixteen-year-old who understands all of those big words like aperture and ISO (okay ISO isn’t a big word but I’m sure it stands for something big) that I can’t seem to grasp no matter how hard I try.
And what gave me this fabulous personal photographer idea was that the look I was most excited about seeing was designed by another homeschooling sixteen-year-old, Rachel Irvin (who I interviewed earlier in the week on Alabama Bloggers.)
Rachel, a self-taught seamstress, made it into the top thirty (out of 200) 11-18 year old Rising Design Stars. And Rachel’s fourteen-year-old sister, Hannah, did a stunning job modeling Rachel’s creation on the Runway Thursday night.
The competition’s requirements were that the dress had to be made out of non-traditional material and put together without the use of sewing. Rachel used window screening lined with garbage bags and tissue paper for her top and skirt, then added detail with metal brads and deconstructed bath poofs.
It was fantastic.
My other favorite student dress was this one by Olivia Kampwerth, which I thought was extremely elegant to have been made out of what I am pretty sure was toilet paper:
There was also a college competition, where students got to show a small collection of cohesive looks. I adored this trench, designed by Sarah Winford:
We also got to see beautiful looks by local boutiques including Marella, who showed many graceful dresses,
And Vineyard Vines, who showed whimsical accessories,
And some pretty speech-removing men’s pants.
The headlining designer on Thursday night was Jeff Garner of Prophetik, who showed his vast collection in tribute to Princess Grace.
Many of his pieces were stunning, overflowing with grace and luxury.
He brought along two live musicians, each taking turns singing for different parts of the collection.
A leader in organic and sustainable fabrics and processes, Prophetik has learned to do it right, not shirking vibrance and movement.
My favorite piece was this one – I adored the combination of the print and bright solid.
His collection was the epitome of romance,
I attended Fashion Week alone on Friday night with one mission in place: to meet Anthony Ryan Auld and Joshua McKinley. I knew that I ran the risk of being labeled as a Project Runway Stalker since I waited in an inordinately long line just to meet Tim Gunn in 2009, but I just had to see if Joshua’s eyebrows were as animated in real life as they appear to be on television.
He did not disappoint.
And, to mark the momentous occasion, I uttered my first word ever in the Birmingham Fashion Week Interview Room.
After nearly everyone else had asked their questions (all eight of us,) I asked,
“Joshua, you mentioned not letting the trends affect you in a bad way. And Anthony Ryan, you referred to making sure that you get feedback from customers. How do you each keep your fan feedback from affecting your design aesthetics in a negative way?”
Anthony Ryan said, “Hmmm…that’s a tough question. That’s a REALLY good question…It’s really tough to say. [miscellaneous hemming and hawing] I guess at the end of the day, I just don’t let it.”
(As soon as I exited the interview room, I gleefully texted Chris, “Anthony Ryan said I asked the BEST QUESTION OF THE NIGHT!!!”, which is technically true since he didn’t exactly mention that anyone else’s question was good. Right?)
Joshua answered my question in a very thoughtful way. [Paraphrasing, because I was staring at his eyebrows instead of taking notes…] “I don’t let what people think of my design affect me, but if there’s a quality issue, like if they say my clothes fell apart, then it bothers me a lot…unless of course I did it on purpose because I wanted to embarrass them.”
Both of the guys were extremely nice to us, and we all walked together down the sidewalk and across the street for “Step and Repeat:”
After the photo op, I went back across the street to sink into a couch-so-cozy-I-wanted-to-steal-it, put my feet up, and have dinner at The Red Cat.
This was a fabulously foolish move, because I should have been elbowing for my spot in The Press Pit:
But the night before had hurt my (high-heeled) feet tremendously, and I somehow thought that if I avoided the crush, an overstuffed chair would magically descend from the heavens just for me, from which I could have a fabulous, comfortable view.
That did not occur.
It should be noted that, if you plan on showing up just-in-time for a Runway Show, it helps to be tall. Or not have decided to wear flats because of your heel-induced pain the night before.
Eventually I found a spot halfway down the runway where I could see, just in time to watch the collection from the most droolworthy boutique in Birmingham, Theadora.
I pretty much loved all of their looks and purposed in my heart to save up some money to go visit Theadora before Spring.
Because every blogger needs a wardrobe like this, right?
All that typing…we should do it in style.
And if a homeschooling Mom doesn’t dress like this every day as she wipes snot from a nose while simultaneously assisting with addition and subtraction, can she really be called a homeschooling Mom?
Yes. I need these clothes. All of them.
Eventually, it came to pass that it was the appointed time for Joshua’s show.
Which was a collection of…bedazzled menswear. With a pop of Tighty-Whitey Graphics.
And, since he described his line as “audible without conversation,” I will respect his wishes and leave you to watch in silence.
After his show, Joshua came out aglow for the admiring crowd.
He kissed a birthday girl right in front of me,
then left the runway with a couple cartwheels.
Because if you’re going to design bedazzled menswear, you absolutely must show it with flair.
Anthony Ryan’s collection was a bit more subdued (what wouldn’t be?), like this very unique and interesting dress (even though I was worried about the model accidentally pulling it off with an unusually forceful pocket entry.)
I have to admit that I didn’t understand some of his looks – like this one,
and this one,
But I absolutely drooled over this dress, and have considered driving to Baton Rouge to make it mine.
Anthony Ryan made his appearance next.
You might notice that the crowd behind him was a tiny bit excited.
Too bad he only had eyes for me.
And it’s all because I asked him the BEST question he’d EVER heard.
(Wasn’t that what he said?)
(Yes. I think it was.)