Fashion tells a story. Whether it’s silky fabrics flowing effortlessly down the runway or avant garde pieces signifying the building of perhaps the newest fashion house, each piece is part of a narrative. Atlanta International Fashion Week was filled with stories from around the world told through the beautiful art of fashion and surprisingly no piece fell short of my expectations. The first official night of AIFW included a mixer for designers, models and media—a night of upbeat tunes, refreshing hor dourves and great conversation with many individuals breaking through in the fashion industry.
Bridging the gap & connecting continents through fashion.
Day 1: The first runway show of AIFW set the bar high for the rest of the week. Highlighting successful nursing instructor turned fashion designer Michael Sta. Maria, the night was filled with goth-inspired gowns with the elegance of the eighteenth century. Sta. Maria’s Fall/Winter 2016 Ready-to-Wear Collection showcased lace, mesh, jewels, crowns and plenty of black. Two years ago, Sta. Maria survived a car crash that nearly paralyzed him from the waist down. Channelling his love of fashion design, Sta. Maria’s most recent collection represents the array of emotions he felt throughout his recovery. Many of the designs portray characteristics seemingly inspired by the Baroque style of the 18th century, similar to Dolce & Gabbana’s fall 2012 line: large gold jewelry decorated with jewels and pearls, floral appliqués and intricate gold accents. Others hold similar characteristics to fashion of the Victorian Era of England, with high necks and lacy ruffles. The pièce de résistance was the final garment—an off-the-shoulder, champagne colored ball gown with gorgeous gold detail and a crown fit for royalty. Though Sta. Maria’s designs are more on the modest side in terms of showing skin, these slim-fitted silhouettes are sexy and far from outdated.
Day 2: Day two was a treat for lovers of more modern and trendy garb. With a variety of looks and fabrics to feast our eyes on, there was a bit of a disconnect between the line and the designers. The story throughout the three lines we saw lacked the story and sense of purpose we always strive to see.
West African designer Alain Fagnidi kicked off the night with a knockout collection. The first half of Fagnidi’s collection showcased athletic wear in hues of red, purple and blue, complete with boxing robes and gloves. The second half of this vibrant line is where Fagnidi really displayed his aesthetic. Although appealing to the more dapperly gent—classic button-up shirts, bow ties and suspenders—Fagnidi incorporates ripped denim, patchwork and tennis shoes for the man who wants to make an edgy statement.
SUMMARY: There was a clear sense of separation between the athletic line and the ready-to-wear lines. It would be great to have seen more of the designer’s story come across in the seams.
Iridium’s menswear collection, though comprising completely of neutral colors, stands to make a statement in men’s fashion by pushing the everyday man to step outside of his comfort zone. Iridium was definitely a favorite of mine for it’s practical originality. Usually on the runways of New York, London and the like, menswear collections are so farfetched—metallic suits, bright and clashing colors, etc.—that only the small percentage of men with an extensive knowledge of fashion are appealed to. Iridium’s tailored pieces are perfect for those who want more fashion forward pieces that can be worn in a more casual setting.
SUMMARY: This line is geared more towards the everyday guy that wants to wear something that isn’t too far outside of his comfort zones but still encourages him towards a more structured look with a twist.
Last, but hands down my favorite collection of the week, J Loren’s simple edge made a great end to the night. An array of textures and fabrics—from alligator skin to feathers to liquid latex—each piece is as bold and fresh as the last and the overall aesthetic of the line flows beautifully together. Though extremely hard to pick favorites, this white, high neck and slit dress is a flawless combination of trendy and classic. J Loren’s collection is clean, sleek and simple, but a total eye-catcher.
SUMMARY: I really liked the dresses but it was the headwear that distracted from the line itself. With such a clear sense of authenticity, it was preferential to see the “why” behind such bold statements.