It’s 2013; don’t be afraid to wear white before Memorial Day. Not only can you wear it, but you also can rock an entire white look. Designers participating in Austin Fashion Week’s Saturday opening event, Noir, will present one all-white design for a Blanc Runway Show that features fashions from avant garde to classic. Guests will contrast the runway looks with all-black attire.
This year’s fashion week, changed from August to May, celebrates five years of weeklong festivities including runway shows and designer awards and introduces new ways fashionistas can interact with the festival. For the first time, the official opening fashion event also includes a seated dinner at Brazos Hall. Runway shows, previously at the Driskill Hotel, will move to La Zona Rosa, where audience members can now text-to-buy runway looks. When a must-have design is spotted, text a number and expect a direct response from the designer in a few days. And for those not in the Austin area, live streaming of the runway shows will be available.
At the Blanc Runway Show, though the color white unifies all the looks, each of the 16 designers will bring their unique points-of-view and influences to garments that will be on sale after the show. All proceeds will benefit the Arc of the Capital Area. Here’s a sneak peek at some of the white looks created by Austin-based designers:
Fresh off the NBC reality show competition “Fashion Star,” designer Amber Perley of Pearl Southern Couture will show a classic but sexy ivory dress.
“It’s clean, simple and can be worn for many occasions,” Perley says. The classic front and crisscross back reminds Perley of the late Princess Diana’s elegant style.
After designing under extreme deadlines during the reality show competition, Perley says she’s now a more decisive designer and handles working under pressure better. Her Southern-inspired clothing received bids from the television show’s store buyers, and Perley advanced several episodes into the competition but was ultimately eliminated.
“I had never done anything like that before,” Perley says. “And working with the mentors (John Varvatos, Jessica Simpson and Nicole Richie) was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
Aside from the Blanc Runway Show, fans of Perley’s work can check out her spring 2013 collection during a La Zona Rosa runway show Friday.
For designer Christi du Mesnil Craven of the Lilly Lorraine line, texture and drama bring her all-white dress together.
“It looks modern coming down the runway, but with a dreamlike Grecian goddess over-the-top look,” says Craven. Greece’s white-washed buildings helped inspire the look that Craven also wanted to be wearable.
She launched her line in 2012 and has rapidly risen in the fashion world. Singer and jazz bassist Esperanza Spalding recently wore one of her dresses.
Craven studied psychology and worked at the Texas Children’s Hospital before opening her own interior design business. But now the fashion designer has a downtown showroom for her garments. “More than anything, I’m an artist, and I see fashion as works of art,” she says. “I have a great team, and I attribute my fast growth to them.”
Also coming down the Blanc runway will be the romantic and ethereal Nina Dress created by designer Jessica Ciarla of Ciarla Bride. The one-shoulder dress featuring handmade flowers crafted in silk chiffon is representative of Ciarla’s brand, which focuses on the modern, fashion-forward bride.
But Ciarla’s looks go beyond the big day, and she says the Nina Dress’ romantic silhouette also makes it a perfect cocktail dress to wear in Austin. Ciarla spent a year working on a graduate degree in Florence, Italy, and the country’s style influences many of her designs.
“I was inspired by the Boboli Gardens that I routinely visited,” Ciarla says. The dress also features intricate Roman-inspired draping.
Other featured Blanc Runway Show designers include Linda Asaf, Adrienne Yunger, Gail Chovan, Priscilla Barroso of Crowned Bird, Kendra Scott, Megan Summerville, Sarah Parrott of Parrott, Rare Trends, Ross Bennett, Teddies for Bettys, Stephen Moser, Sarah Eileen McLaughlin Reed of Sarah Eileen, and Theresa Kopecky of Tess Designs.
How can you pull off wearing all white?
Austin Fashion Week designers Amber Perley, Jessica Ciarla and Christi du Mesnil Craven share some tips.
- Play with all the shades of white to find what works best for you.
- Pair with metallic accessories.
- If you don’t want to feel too bridal, throw on a tuxedo jacket before heading out to that cocktail party.
- Try a nude heel or gold wedge for spring and summer.
- Stay away from a spray tan.
- White can be pretty on any skin color. If you have fair skin, bring out the color somewhere else, like with lip gloss.
Four steps to keeping white clothes clean
- Pretreat stains with dishwashing liquid or liquid detergent.
- Wash your whites separately in hot water.
- Instead of chlorine bleach, try oxygen bleach.
- Try a laundry booster such as borax or washing soda.
Source: Martha Stewart Living
Austin Fashion Week
When: Friday-May 11
Where: Noir opening event at Brazos Hall on Saturday; Runway shows at La Zona Rosa on Wednesday-May 10; Austin Fashion Awards at Austin Music Hall on May 11, plus various fashion shows in local stores
Information and tickets:fashionweekaustin.com
Catch all the latest looks from Austin Fashion Week with daily updates at Statesman.com/style.