Punk-rock, West Coast style accents NFW Ready-to-Wear show

“Ten minutes until runway,” comes the announcement over the loudspeaker, interrupting the nondescript house music blaring at BMI, just a stone’s throw away from Music Circle. We all take our places, iPhones at the ready to capture each and every glitzy frame at Nashville Fashion Week’s Designer Ready To Wear Show.

This marks the seventh year of fashion week in Music City, and the organizers made extra efforts to highlight the music industry’s relationship to fashion, and vice versa. Hosting the event indoor at BMI as opposed to last year’s outdoor runway at Legislative Plaza was a definite sacrifice of scenery. But the loss of aesthetic appeal was made up for in comfort. (I remember shivering in my wool trench coat last year.) And fortunately the lackluster set did not diminish the work of the designers.

Fauxgerty opened the ready-to-wear portion of fashion week with a nontraditional (which is to say non-leather) take on the leather jacket. Decked out in band tees and high-waisted pants, the models marched down the runway in tribute to rock music and West Coast style. Fauxgerty this season is a retro appeal to groupies and rock-’n’-roll aficionados. It was badass and working hard to let us know it. (Check out my brief interview with Chrissy Fogerty before the show.)

The focus at Shea Steele, Michael Drummond and Lagi Nadeau this year is on texture and silhouette. Lagi Nadeau’s Brit-inspired collection featured a boxy-shouldered, maroon-striped car coat sans collar and many metallic pieces reminiscent of the Burberry trenches from a few years ago, but with the sobriety of a Fall/Winter collection.

Nadeau’s show aimed for a modern London-chic aesthetic: strong shoulders, straight-leg pants and velvety sweater dresses with quasi-minimalist elegance. And she succeeded wonderfully. She evokes power and femininity in the designs, and the clothes simply look great.

Michael Drummond (Project Runway Season 8) was the uncontended star of the night. The Missouri-based designer’s ready-to-wear collection featured harem pants (Sorry, Bieber. They’ve been reclaimed.), black lace and sweaters over floral patterns – pieces as playful as they are daring.

The collection appears to be punk-rock inspired. There is a lot of black leather and an almost uncomfortable clash between the different fabrics, each fighting for attention. Several of the dresses look as though they have been torn. And they are long and unapologetically sexy.

The outlier of the collection – I’d say “black sheep,” but that might fit better with the theme – was a shoulderless silver top paired with red velvet harem pants. The model elegantly strutted down the runway, a hundred envious eyes fixed on her, stopping to pose twice before turning back as if totally aware of her uniqueness.

The signature piece, a flowing black kimono with a dress in soft pink screenprinted on the back, is indicative of what Drummond is trying to accomplish. His clothes make reference to past decades, centuries even, but remain firmly planted in the 21st century. He is not someone who simply re-appropriates, but rather someone who reinvents – a hallmark of a great designer.

Then came menswear. The Canadian designer Patrick Assaraf showed his line of ready-to-wear basics. A long parade of handsome men in well-fitting sweaters, hoodies, jeans and tees in black and navy filed down the runway. Grey tees and blue coats clung to muscular bodies. “Typical ready-to-wear,” commented a blogger close to me with an exaggerated eyeroll.

It certainly wasn’t the most exciting moment of the night – I guess it can’t all be dazzling.

Photos at top (from left):

Michael Drummond, photo by Alaina K. Mullin

Lagi Nadeau, photo by Alaina K. Mullin

Michael Drummond, photo by Alaina K. Mullin

Photo below: Fauxgerty, photo by Doug Barry

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