Fall fashion heating up in Hampton Roads, and it’s about time we can shop the runway

The feel of fall is off to a slow start weatherwise. Yet, the sizzle of seasonal fashion events signals it is indeed time to turn our attention to style renewal.

Activities for Virginia Fashion Week are set for Oct. 15-21. Expect an increased focus on young talent, with the inclusion of a weeknight emerging-designer contest for kids and teens, and the Virginia Kids Fashion Showcase to be held on the weekend. But most anticipated for VAFW’s 11th year should be its introduction of a shop-the-runway experience.

It will be held immediately after the finale designer showcase, VAFW’s marquee event, on Oct. 21 at Norfolk Waterside’s Harbor Club, organizers have announced.

A provision for attendees to buy straight off the runway is long overdue. The fashion industry has felt increasing retail pressure of late to shorten the time it takes for runway previews to be made available to the public.

Moreover, independent artists – those who don’t enjoy the luxury of a sponsor or of being a publicly traded brand – sorely need a return on their investment as soon as possible. Production costs are high for the original, one-of-a-kind pieces created for regional runway shows. A collection can cost anywhere from several hundred dollars to several grand for these artists, who, might I add, often work day jobs in unrelated careers to pay the bills and pursue their passion.

But what sense does it make to create for a show, only to lug the items home where they pile up in an attic or spare room?

None.

Matter of fact, the structure of Virginia Beach’s Town Center fall fashion showcase on the plaza (the most recent one was Sept. 22) is to do a runway show featuring styles from its participating retailers, then encourage attendees to go right into shops that stay open late for the sole purpose of capitalizing off immediate interest.

Ann Leister, VAFW’s founder, touts the return of former Newport News-based Stephon Stallings, who now lives in Atlanta. Stallings, who debuted in VAFW 10 years ago, last appeared in 2013, when the main events were held in Williamsburg. Returning favorites include Brehon Williams of Chesapeake, Azi Blas of Richmond, White Dress by Greta Kay of Waynesboro, Willie Hall of New Jersey and Sehar Peerzada of Greater D.C.

Leister says to look out for new talent as well. On the roster is Dory Bailey, a Beach-based swimwear designer and wife of a Navy Seal. Bailey donates a portion of her sales to Gold Star families, Leister said. Also debuting are Letwa Gooden, a Chesapeake-based women’s wear designer and a Navy commander.

Speaking of fashion weeks, Virginia Beach-based 360 Vintage Designs had the privilege of participating in New York Small Boutique Fashion Week in September. NYSBFW bills itself as the “only business oriented runway show geared toward small business owners, emerging designers, and novelty designers that are looking to get their start by selling to small boutiques and unique shops.” According to the fashion week’s release, it has debuted collections of more than 400 independent brands.

Tracey Langford, owner of 360 Vintage Designs, grew up in New York and says that being in Manhattan brought back memories of her teenage years.

“It literally brought tears to my eyes … I saw my dream come full circle. To style the models that I had never met in the unique vintage styles of 360 was simply thrilling. It reminded me of the days when I would go into the boutiques and walk past the windows in Soho and the Village and say, ‘I am going to own a boutique like this one day.’”

360 Vintage Designs is at 4714 Princess Anne Road.

Bra-ha-ha, the annual fashion-art event put on by the Chesapeake Regional Health Foundation, has extended its registration deadline to 11:59 p.m. Tuesday. The contest is open to individuals and to businesses who must jazz up a 38C bra with an inspirational theme of their choosing. First, second and third place winners are chosen, as well as a winner in the categories of best business, best craftsmanship, most creative, most humorous, most inspirational and 13 and under. First place winner receives $1,000.

Winners are announced during the Awards Show & Auction, which this year will be held from 7-9 p.m. Oct. 19 at Tidewater Community College’s Chesapeake Student Center. Afterward, the bras will be on display for a week at the center. A new component to Bra-ha-ha is a Women’s Health Expo that will be held the day after the show and auction.

To register to enter or to buy a ticket to this event, which in its 11 years has managed to successfully mix the bittersweet with fashion fun, go to brahaha.org or call (757) 312-6314.

Now how often does an everyday citizen have a piece of clothing that a presidential library would want? Kathryn Arn of Virginia Beach does. She has a denim jacket that has been accepted for donation by the William J. Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Ark.

“When I purchased the jacket I thought how cool it would be to wear it while walking on the beach when in my 80s. I am in my 60s and found a better place for it – with you,” she wrote to the library.

The jacket was embroidered by Jacobson Embroidery in Norfolk for the 1993 Clinton-Gore inaugural hoopla. Jacobson was the sole purveyor of embroidered goods for the inaugural committee’s downtown D.C. store at 17th and L streets, a Virginian-Pilot column reported at the time.

Arn got her last wear of the jacket this past Labor Day when her husband took her to the beach for a photo shoot in it.

To that we say, “awww.” One can never go wrong cleaning out one’s closets and donating.

Source: The Virginian Pilot