It’s that time of year again: Like a snake emerging from hibernation and regenerating its skin for the new season, layers are beginning to be shed in favor of shorts, skirts, tees, and tanks. Headed by style consultant TJ Dunn and event planner Khalilah Olokunola, the second annual Wilmington Fashion Week (WFW) once again will take over the downtown area, as the hottest looks and wares are showcased from April 1 through 4. A portion of the proceeds (10 percent of ticket sales) will benefit DREAMS of Wilmington.
Upstarted as a means to capitalize on the Port City’s expansive pool of talent—from boutiques and designers to models, hair stylists to makeup artists—WFW served as a way to bridge communication between visionaries and forge relationships. Fashion enthusiasts even will be able to shop the runway before each show. Folks can gain access to all events with a pass for $60 or a VIP pass for $150.
“We plan to blow it out of the water this year,” Dunn says. “Last year was amazing, to the point that we had to shut off tickets sales at our first show! This year we really want to put out that stamp in the state of NC that we have a high-quality fashion presence right her in Wilmington! But the most important thing to me is relationships and opportunity. Money comes and goes; those things last forever.”
Things will kick off with an opening night party held at Bourgie Nights (127 Princess St.). Tickets to the soirée are $10, and attendees will get the chance to rub elbows with the hot, up-and-coming designers and talents featured throughout the week. The launch party begins at 7 p.m. and is sponsored by Panache Clothing Company.
On Thursday the fashion celebration really will get underway. The Swim Show, presented by Bob King Mercedes, will take place at 8 p.m. at the Wilmington Convention Center (515 Nutt St). Tickets are $20. The beach bash will continue at the Blind Elephant after party, which begins at 10 p.m.
Friday will encapsulate a night of nightwear, with Bold on the Runway. The event will feature hot looks poised to make a killer impression when venturing into area nightclubs. Tickets to the event, which also take place at Wilmington Convention Center, are $20 ($50 for VIP), and it will be followed by an after party at Satellite Bar and Lounge (120 Greenfield St.).
Saturday’s events will allow locals to indulge in local flair, with the Love Local shopping extravaganza. The event will preview spring and summer styles with a runway show at 6 p.m., and folks can shop the runway at 7 p.m. It’ll be held at Wilmington Convention Center, with tickets costing $20 ($50 VIP).
For many of this year’s participants, it will be something of a reunion. This is true for Lesley Tamaev, who has worked as a designer for the likes of D.K.N.Y, Jones of New York and Ralph Lauren. Originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, Tamaev studied at Clothing Design and Technology at University in Manchester and was featured as one of last year’s WFW emerging designers. This year she will be showing off her new digs as part of the Designer Showcase.
Tamaev moved to Wilmington from NYC eight years ago and has been creating with her husband, Sergey, ever since. They had two separate labels—Just like Honey Clothing and Sewn To The Bone—but recently saw it fit to combine, dubbing their cohesion “Rove and Roam.”
“Rove and Roam is a brand born out of the idea that designing is a lot like travelling,” Tamaev says. “Your ideas come at the beginning of the road, and by the time you have sketched, chosen fabric, made patterns and samples, the original ideas have been transformed into new designs. We want Rove and Roam to be more about great items of clothing that are not necessarily collection-driven.”
Though they carry men’s clothing, they will only be donning their women’s line at WFW. Spurred by the layering trend that is so prominent these days, their showcased fashions will comprise dresses and separates that can be paired together. As well, this week will usher in the launch of their official website (www.roveandroam.com).
Likewise, Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) graduate and Winston-Salem native Amanda Redmon will be showing off her latest apparel. She realized her talent for designing at an early age, reveling in natural appreciation for color, contrast and shape. Redmon’s prowess yielded a career that’s led to design projects for Urban Outfitters in Philadelphia, PA. She spent six years with that label before returning to NC, where she continued doing freelance designs for Urban Outfitter’s companies, as well as work for Belk. Her talent has made spreads in publications like ReadyMade and YES! Weekly.
Like Tamaev, this will be a returning year for Redmon, who was featured in the emerging artist showcase, which she learned of via a friend on Facebook, last year. This week she will don her women’s wear collection.
“[It] is inspired by the clean lines and shapes found in mid-century architecture, mixed with the innocent and untouched color palette that can be seen with natural light,” Redmon says. “The shapes can be worn easily and beautifully, and were designed with most body shapes in mind.”
Both designers’ works will make their way down the runway on Saturday, April 4, in the Designer Showcase at 8 p.m. The show will be held at the Wilmington Convention Center, with tickets coming in at $20.
The main attraction will feature work from the kids from DREAMS Center for Art and Education, a nonprofit that helps underprivileged students gain footing in and exposure to the arts. They will be selling their handcrafted jewelry.
“I work with DREAMS because they play a big part in educating students in the arts,” Dunn tells. “They already had a jewelry-making class, and this is a great opportunity to get in front of clients and learn from others—to sell their products alongside top-name artists, like Kristen Woods of Kopius and Christian and Carmin Black of Half United. I thought this would be a great way to show them how to conduct business as an artist.”
The Designer Showcase will lead up to the closing-night awards reception, held at Bourgie Nights. The festivities begin at 10 p.m. and will crown Best Model, Best in Show and Designer of the Year. Tickets are $10.
Wilmington Fashion Week
Wednesday, April 1 – 4
Various times and venues
Tickets: $10 – $150