This is a guest post written by Maghan McDowell, Editorial Director of INsite Gainesville. Maghan was a co-host of Gainesville Fashion Week runway shows and events. Stay connected to Gainesville’s style and entertainment scene at INsiteGainesville.com
On the runway, photo by Sujie Wu for INsite Gainesville
This weekend saw the final days of runway shows and festivities for the fifth annual Gainesville Fashion Week in Gainesville, Florida. In a town that’s home to 80,000 college students, the setting is ripe for an occasion to dress up and celebrate the creative community—just ask the army of volunteers and sponsors.
The weeklong series of events kicked off with a ribbon cutting and art show celebrating the landmark year, and closed with a brunch and trunk show yesterday selling pieces featured on the runways.
Gainesville Fashion Week offers a welcome forum for local talent, not just designers and boutique owners, but also visual artists, musicians, models, makeup and hair artists, and photographers. This year’s event hosted a combination of returning favorites and first-time, out-of-towners—a sure sign that Gainesville Fashion Week has established its position as a Southern fashion and art destination.
Runway highlights included emerging St. Louis designer Laura Kathleen, perhaps most recognized for being a top five favorite on Season 9 of Project Runway. She showed her fall ready-to-wear collection of expertly tailored separates and dresses—all made in the U.S.A. Laura’s versatile collection combined a subtle Bohemian vibe with elegant restraint. We hope her structured blazers become a trademark. She also included a few of her handmade jewelry pieces from her line LoveArmour of which we are sure to see more of soon.
Another addition to this year’s lineup was Raleigh-based Southern fRock, which shared a collection of simple, feminine knit dresses that could go easily go from Derby day to oyster roast. Designer Emily Newnam drew inspiration from her time living in Charleston, and the nautical touches and punchy colors were evidence of her classic Southern sensibility.
Mikho Resort, from New York City-based designer Miguel Blanco, returned to close Gainesville Fashion Week. The partnership with husband and video editor Alexander Hammer (he’s worked on videos for Beyonce, Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Kelly Rowland) meant a highly conceptual experience that launched with a short film before showcasing men and women swimsuits and simple separates with a sixties-era sensuality.
In a state known for spring break, it’s no surprise that swimwear appeared more than once. Sironna Swimwear—known previously for sexy yet wearable women’s suits—debuted a collection for kids that had the audience applauding as every mini model hit their mark with gusto. The line’s whimsical touches were like building-block centerpieces and candy party favors. Later, Bruna Santana’s collection, Zella Machado Swimwear, was all grown up, with a bikini-heavy line and bold shapes influenced by retro lines with modern sex appeal.
Other local favorites included Jacquelyn Brooks, known for game-day dresses (never out of style in this Gator-crazy town) and ladylike frocks; and AJNEL Designs, which presented children’s and women’s lines with a distinctly Victorian influence seen in the high collars and heavy fabrics.
For a town not often at the tip of the tongue when naming fashion destinations, Gainesville Fashion Week is a great cultural highlight in a town bursting with creativity, innovation, and talent.