Lexus Nashville Fashion Week, a community-wide celebration of Music City’s thriving fashion and retail industries, was founded just one short year ago through a collaboration of six dynamic fashion, retail and media professionals, all of whom were passionately devoted to creating an event showcasing Middle Tennessee’s growing fashion industry. This innovative group, which included Cindy Walls, Connie Cathcart-Richardson, Marcia Masulla, Robert Campbell, Scott McClure and our own Mike Smith, determined that ticket proceeds should benefit the new Nashville Fashion Forward Fund, established to advance the career of select local talent in a fashion-related field.
Spring ahead to 2012. A larger venue, more meet-the-designer events at area retail stores, greater participation from New York, California and international draw-a-crowd designers. Add spectacular staging by Big Events’ Malcolm and Martha Greenwood and Denise Sikes and the return of the event’s inaugural presenting sponsors, Joy and J.R. Roper, this year’s Lexus NFW was a wham-bang-pow week of fashion, fashion and more fashion. Talk about a heightened WOW factor!
The founders of this top-notch event are justifiably proud. “When we asked the big-name designers to participate, they enthusiastically accepted, saying: ‘I’ve always wanted to go to Nashville,’” noted Mike Smith while Cindy Wall added, “I love the diversity of Nashvillians that this event gathers together.”
Indeed, the week appealed to all with more than 20 designers in the five nightly shows. The first three nights featured shows at the gargantuan Marathon Music Works. One night attracted edgy fashionistas with designers such as Valentine Valentine, by Smith and T. Rains. The next night drew the elegant and sophisticated to shows by Leona, Sjobeck, Wai Ming, Eva Franco and Zang Toi. And the third night showcased emerging designers in a fashion “installation” interactive atmosphere.
On Friday night, following a Thursday afternoon at the Frist Center with industry panelists, the shows moved over to The Parthenon, spotlighting the historical side of the city for a showing of lines by White Rabbit, Red Doll, G-Star, Katharine Kidd and Versace Collection. Finally, on Saturday night, the weary, but no less gushing, devotees donned their fabulous frocks and strapped on their sky-high stilettos before gingerly making their way down to The Pinnacle at Symphony Place for the full-on finale highlighting Jamie and the Jones., Kal Rieman, Sylvia Heisel, Magid Bernard and Randi Rahm.
There was, undoubtedly, absolutely something for everyone. Some attended every single night while others decided to pick and choose. The crowds, of approximately 400 attendees each night, were dotted with such fashion-forward locals as Jana Davis, Niki Taylor, Janice Elliott, Alecia Boswell, Gail Martin, Elizabeth Broyhill and Stacey Rhodes. It was no surprise to glimpse Caroline McNeilly and Laura Neiwold, chairmen of this year’s successful Symphony Fashion Show, standing in the long lines, All-Access passes in hand, excited to be witness to the NFW runway shows.
Be duly warned: Once the fashion bug bites, it lands hard on your shoulder like an oversized statement brooch and stays there, firmly pinned and unmoving while looking spectacular, of course. As demonstrated by astonishing attendance, the second edition of NFW showed that it has serious staying power—right on par with an authentic Hermes Birkin bag. GH
—photographs by michael w. bunch & eric england