We all have images of New York Fashion Week, with the glamour, glitz, press and endless poses of men and women looking rather serious in their conglomerations of color and pattern. I don’t know about you, but I have often (more times than I’d like to admit) imagined myself in those scenarios, dripping with duds that say “admire me” and have photographers stumble over themselves to snap the perfect shot of me adjusting my ankle strap. Did you even know we have a fashion scene here, let alone our very own Fashion Week? We sure do, and boy is it amping up for the sixth year of being a central pulse for our local fashionistas to gather.
So what exactly IS Fashion Week? It is a week in September (Sept 13-21) that showcases local fashion designers and holds meetups which span over a week that blend buyers with boutiques, as well as parties which celebrate the unique style we have here in the area. It’s also a great opportunity for aspiring models to strut their stuff on the runway; oh yes, there will be runways! Tampa Bay Fashion Week (TBFW) is run by a board of volunteers who hand-select thriving designers in the area, as well as new emerging designers, to showcase at the grand finale runway show toward the end of the week. It’s a thrilling night full of vibrant local creativity and a chance to engage with our design community.
TBFW isn’t only about the clothes. They are also an organization that gives back to the community by focusing each and every meetup around a cause or charity. Behind the glitz and glitter of the eye candy of the week lies an underlying thread of giving back and contributing to things far more important. Last year TBFW’s “Cocktails and Couture” event at the Ritz in Ybor was a smaller-scale fashion show and the proceeds benefited the Pediatric Cancer Foundation.
Another event was the History of Fashion at the St. Pete History Museum, which presented a brief history of fashion through the decades. Each decade of the 20th century was given to a local boutique to showcase their wares and style. From the roaring ’20s though the wild ’80s, each decade was presented on the runway in high fashion form. There was even a chance for kids to show off in a children’s couture fashion show that took place at the Glazer Childrens’ Museum in Tampa. Smaller and more intimate seminars have been given during Fashion Week. These range from local fashion blogger meetups to discuss tips and tricks for online management to runway-style meetups to discuss ideas to jazz up any outfit with accessories and quick makeup tips.
Each event is different and focuses on creating high-energy and positive environments that are also reflective of the importance of giving back to the community. It’s a great structure for TBFW, providing a depth that stretches beyond the surface of fashion. Each event is held at different locations throughout the entire Bay area, including Tampa, St. Pete, Largo and Clearwater.
The most recent event that kickstarted the season and raised awareness (and maybe a few eyebrows) was the “underground” Bright Nights event. TBFW announced Bright Nights only two weeks prior to the event and did not disclose the location, making it a very hush-hush event. Participants bought tickets in advance and the event location was announced the day of the event. Bright Nights ticket holders gathered in The Basement, a literal basement in downtown St. Pete – there are so few basements in this area – and came together to socialize, network, and mingle in their bright colors, as that was one of the requirements to party. Fashion Week does a wonderful job creating a positive and energetic atmosphere with innovative events which promote local love.
Interested in taking part in the fun this year? While the TBFW has yet to announce all their events this year, you can start following them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @Fashion Week TampaBay or checking their website www.FashionWeek-TampaBay.com, or check out their blog at www.FashionWeekTampaBayBlog.com.
Hope to see you this fashion season looking swanky and ready for some fun!
*All photos courtesy of Anne Phillips Photography and Fashion Week TampaBay