Lexus Nashville Fashion Week: Thursday recap

Thursday evening’s edition of Lexus Nashville Fashion Week was cold on the outside, warm on the inside. Crowds lined up well before twilight, and far down the street, shivering, almost two hours ahead of the shows announced start time. When the doors did open, there were hallelujahs, but their had already been a party. Family Circle’s representatives and local owners of Lotus Energy Drink had made the rounds at the Holland House Mixer, but the really party happened in the unseasonable chill of the waiting lines. Our new friend, Ms. Dottie Radatz, a very senior (it would be rude to guess her age) and first-time fashion event attendee, was the essence of the night’s delight: “I’ve been watching…and up late on the internet all week to follow what’s going on. Planning outfits and enjoying every minute.” She came with her neighbor, Mary, and by opening, we could only follow in their wake. National reporters, VIPs, local design students, and others mixed and mingled, all affected by Dottie’s good spirits.

Inside, we could see where the church got its name. Lighting in chartreuse and blue threw lacy patterns on the ceiling. “Go Ye…Into All the World…and Preach the Gospel,” the back wall proclaimed. There were tidbits of varied culture and perspective everywhere and it seemed the night was full of surprises.

Olia Zavozina’s work strolled in first, heads nodded to a an alternative soundtrack with a funk beat. A note or two, and out came an attractive local model with an easy stride in something to get married in by Olia Zavozina…but the styling was so hip and easy, we instantly forgot the phrase “formalwear.” Olia, MBA and world travel apparent, surprised with clean and simple in both more traditional strapless gowns and beach wedding shifts. We just saw the fitted men’s suits, every seam flattering, often with black or dark shirts sans tie. Hard to believe this was her menswear debut.  Most telling, hems on men’s pants fell just as they should for the tone of each look. I swear, the women around me moved to the edge of their pews when a gentleman in fitted gray slacks and a divine pink, slightly western inspired shirt with flap pockets and pearl buttons came up the aisle. It wasn’t a cheap homage to country, the fabric looked weighty and the fit it was appealing, to say the least. Not to be outdone, each potential look for a bride was just as flattering. Hair tucked under with pins, a few tumbled curls around the face. Many of the models looked like dreamy, angelic dolls in tumbled jewels, many of this season’s popular turquoise with a little silver gleam. This is the stuff our best East Side Nashville friends would choose. An Olia Zavozina wedding is one we WANT to attend.

Cooper, by Courtney Warren followed with the perfect vacation inspired collection. Much of it read white, in the chapel’s dim light. Tasteful, above the knee, full skirts, combined with demure empire bodices. Several dresses moved by like upside-down tulips. It was hard not to book a cruise, STAT.  One cute frock with butter yellow offsets and wide straps, descended in the back to a small v. A tiny bow there managed not to be precious, but rather sexy. Just at the right spot, where a hand might sit. Everything had potential for a humid Nashville day, but not one spent in an office. Cooper is for a day of toes in the sand or an afternoon, surrounded by children and green grass, at Dragon Park.

White Rabbit brought a first look out with dainty black leather gloves, flourished at the wrist, and a simple top and pencil skirt combo. The work was sophisticated and sartorial a streamlined effect. Sleeves were dolman, with a slit to show the arm and colors were an almost military palette of black, red, white, and khaki. Our absolute favorite accessory of the night, and a wink to personality, was the lorgnette worn around the neck and finished with faux fabric flowers. So unusual, but understated. Tiny waists and ankles looked strong, but feminine in capris  or abbreviated skirts, capped by those artful dolman tops. Great looks for the young woman who has things to do, no time for complicated frills, but a steady wit. If you wish for some sophistication, without pretention, this is a line to watch.

Cynthia Bapst’s Union of Angels brought a dark drama to the evening. In a nod to the equestrian, without being overt, the looks were all "capable woman." A black blouse stood out, fashioned to a pointed collar, but with sleeves ending at the elbow and poufed, ever so slightly, to illuminate silver embroidery. Jackets were military in the shoulder’s cut, but closures and excellent fabrics showed refined draping, which provided closure without the expected tab, fob or ornament. Here again were closely fitted pants, some in shorter lengths. It was the jackets, however, that could go from a weekend in Franklin to the grounding element for a cocktail dress at the Schermerhorn.

Christian Siriano’s collection closed the evening with nothing less than class and a command of Hollywood’s heyday. To say that Christian has paid attention to construction would be an understatement, but the night’s work was anything but heavy-handed.  More like an iron-willed fist in a very chic glove. Colors were dark but clear-toned, and while there were black jackets that would dramatize san overcast day, the deep, almost olive greens and occasional muted flesh-tones kept the collection diverse without moodiness. A sheer blouse of olive or black, with matching fitted trousers, fine for day or evening, whispered modern, available Katherine Hepburn. The models’ hair was flat, parted down the center, with a few crimped waves at the end of long manes. Very fierce, to use that Siriano word, but with romance. One particular coat, draped at the neck in high drama, but with flattering seams at the waist and bust would make a woman of any age appear to be on a mission.

There was a range to all this, a nod to many moments. A tasteful black combination of little top and shorts, another olive cocktail dress with sense to flow instead of ruffle. There was a lot of something heartbreaking, for leaving a hero at the airport. As the collection came together, an evening gown undulated in waves of almost pink. Barbara Eden might have gone to bed in this, but the now genius is a translation for going out. A couple of looks in black, one with wide straps and an amazing almost-ruffle, supported by netting meant to bob and sway with every move were a touch Carmen Miranda, if she drove a Lexus. No dancing required. These dresses were built to do all the work. We could see the fun side of Siriano at the end with a cheeky ball skirt blooming in fleshy warm pink, paired with a charcoal grey top that might have come from a man’s dresser drawer. The skirt stood out, wide and full, and screamed to be touched with work of netting miming crushed flowers. 

Christian himself did us proud in what could have been a diva moment. The crowd was on their feet as the models trouped past for the finale, and ready with cheers when he appeared. No flaunting from Siriano, though. In truly admirable fashion, he bid hello & adieu quickly, as if to say: "Just look at my work."

We have some catching up to do, and there’s more fun to come. Lexus Nashville Fashion Week continues this evening with events through Saturday. Come join us. Like Dottie, we’re delighted to see you.

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