STLFW Emerging Designer Competition Recap

It might seem silly how the fashion industry works - showcase spring/summer designs in the fall, and fall/winter designs in the spring. But that is what fashion is about: looking forward. Sure, trends do come around time after time, but in order to dress for the future, designers must create for the future. On October 15th, what seemed like nearly 1,000 fashion-hungry people descended upon the incredible space that Saint Louis' Union Station transforms into during STLFW. The night's agenda: A still presentation of five designers "to watch," and the Saint Louis Fashion Fund's Emerging Designer Competition, presented by Brown Shoe Company.

The evening started off with drink samples passed around, and a pretty fantastic spread of light bites. I have to say that I do love cheeses, and there was plenty to sample that night! While we snacked and mingled, five up-and-coming designers showcased their works in a still model presentation. Above left, you'll see Trang Nguyen's works. Flirty and feminine, the office-friendly works felt familiar, but the black-trimmed bridal gown leaned towards more fresh. Nasheli Ortiz brought viewers into the future with spacey-looks in neutral colors. Neon orange piping added interest, while paint-splattered oxfords kept it all accessible. Truly Alvarenga's dark works felt like something out of a gloomy Disney Princess film. I especially loved the black mermaid gown and long trench coat. Michael Drummond's easily-recognizable works kept to a silver, white and black palette, with shimmering accents and his signature harnesses. Paulie Gibson went for the sassy side of men's looks with layered pieces that should really inspire some of the male population in St. Louis.

Truly Alvarenga came out on top as the winner for the designers to watch presentation, walking away with a $2,500 prize. Her bubblegum pink hair clashed with her dark and mysterious designs, but that's just want makes her so cool. I congratulated her on her win later in the evening, and she gave me the most genuine, beaming smile and "thank you." I'll be keeping an eye on that one!

Union Station was dressed up in its best attire for the evening. Brown Shoe Company even brought a fancy shoe chandelier for the evening. I escaped into the Grand Hall upstairs for a drink with my coworkers and to listen to the band playing. The acoustics in the Hall leave quite a lot to be desired for any musical performance, but man oh man, that space is gorgeous! The walls are lit by video displays, and the bar is long and luxurious, with chairs and tables spread throughout the length of the Hall. I snuck back downstairs just in time for the show to start. In a trick I learned from NYFW, I hovered in my assigned seats until the lights dropped, and then jumped into a front row spot that was left unfilled. I realized later, at the gesturing of women from across the runway, that I had snuck into one of Susan Sherman's (Chair of the Saint Louis Fashion Fund!) seats. She found a spot across from me, and I tried to look the least like a seat-stealing culprit that I could. I don't think she *actually* minded, since no one had shown up to sit in them, but I still felt like I'd made an oops.

On the runway, ALIVE Magazine's Elizabeth Tucker made a quick introductory speech, and welcomed us to the show. She explained a bit more about the Saint Louis Fashion Fund, which is looking to craft a fashion incubator downtown in the next few years. She also introduced the evening's star-studded judges panel for the Showcase: Fern Mallis, creator of NYFW; Christene Barberich, Editor-in-Chief of Refinery29; fashion businessman Gary Wassner; Stan Herman, illustrious fashion designer; Tess Giberson, designer to show  the following evening; Colleen Sherin, Senior Fashion Director for Saks Fifth Avenue; and Naturalizer's VP of Marketing, Marci Ranger. The six designers for the evening were competing for a hefty $15,000, courtesy of Brown Shoe Company. Let's take a peep at some of the looks from the night (following collage photos courtesy of Mark Schwigen for ALIVE Magazine, final walk videos by me):

Collina Strada is an emerging powerhouse, having just shown at NYFW in September. Sheer fabrics and leather were focuses.

Daniella Kallmeyer featured heavy monochromatic looks, with oversized structuralism. She came out on top as the winner for the evening, snatching up the $15,000 prize.

Fan-favorite Harbison really caught my eye with intense mustard, cool vs warm color combinations, and the ridiculously amazing Wall Street chic of the middle look. Harbison apparently made the final judges' call so difficult that Gary Wassner personally delivered a $3,500 runner-up award to Harbison's designer, Charles Harbison.

Jessie Liu's works flickered down the runway with colorful designs that brought about images of old-school video games or trippy animated television shows. Balanced by white, the patterns fortunately did not overwhelm.

Remi Canarie's looks varied from classic, navy and white, to painterly natural imagery. The look in the middle looks like my ideal dress to wear on a breezy vacation to the south of France.

Wai Ming wooed with tye-dye like prints, airy fabrics, and definite warm weather-leaning shapes. Out of all of the collections, Wai Ming's felt most like it was a spring/summer presentation. I'll take the middle dress on a cruise with me sometime, please!

After the emerging designers showcase, local stores presented looks as well, such as Macy's, Loft, Nordstrom, Gap, and others. I saw a lot of oversized sweaters atop leggings, so I'm thinking that might need to become my winter comfy-chic uniform!

For the evening, I ended up with a look that I was referring to as "butler chic:" skinny burgundy pants with a leather stripe down the side (maurices), a clean white button-down (maurices), a fitted black vest (thrifted), a funny little bowtie (no idea where from, literally my bedroom floor), cut-out suede heels (Nine West), and my Chandler the DJ Robot necklace that I picked up at the VIP Blogger Lounge (The Clover). The beautiful ladies with me in the photos above are Adrain from work, Ingrid of Centro Models, and Angie of Honey & Denim.

A first for STLFW as well was the BUTIK: an exclusive and unique shopping experience acting as a pop-shop just for STLFW events. I browsed a bit and said hi to Neil of Saint Rita Parlor, which may sound familiar if you've read this post from earlier this year. I have to admit that I didn't think to plan to save any money to shop at the BUTIK, so I'll keep it in mind for the spring season!

The afterparty for the evening was held upstairs in the Grand Hall and featured live music and DJs, as well as more drink samples. I visited a bit but had promised a friend I'd meet her afterward so I hustled on out.

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more STLFW recaps coming your way soon!