Sunday, August 9, 2009

Fashion On The Square Brings New York Couture to San Francisco

San Francisco is still struggling with putting on a fashion week event that rings true to the spirit of its local designers and community. The recent Fashion On The Square event held at the Intercontinental Hotel the weekend of July 25th was a valiant attempt at connecting the world of fashion with art at a local level. The daytime events included a series of seminars on fashion trends, red-carpet hair and makeup, and of great interest here to the IFCSF, the role of eco-design. On Sunday afternoon there was a children and teen runway show from local brand giants Gymboree, Old Navy, Gap and Janie and Jack.

The main event on Saturday night was a couture show featuring New York-based designer B Michael. While Mayor Gavin Newsom wrote a proclamation declaring July 25th B Michael Day” in the city, I was a bit perplexed with how this represented San Francisco fashion. That aside, the collection was beautiful and the event did raise money for local charities Wardrobe for Opportunity, K.I.D.S. and Fashion Delivers.

Fashion On the Square’s Founder & Creative Director Y’Anad Burrell led the night’s festivities with help from View from the Bay’s Janelle Wang and Denise Bradley (formerly of MoAD). The show opened with a presentation by fashion student Erik Stultz from three different collections, featuring menswear, lingerie and couture. Stultz gave a strong showing, especially with the corseted pieces from the second collection that were said to be inspired by the coral reefs for colors and textures and the circus for their silhouettes. Soon to graduate from the Art Institute of California, Stultz’s experience came across in the confidence of his designs.

Completely unexpected and magical, guests were treated to a brief interlude by two dancers (and later models) from the Alonzo King's LINES Ballet. I was dazzled with the way they glided across the runway and even more so when I later saw the female dancer modeling b.michael designs En pointe. This show of artistry was closer to the type of diversions one might expect at the major shows in New York and Paris. And a perfect introduction to B Michael – showing almost 30 looks from his Fall 2009 collection these clothes are for women headed to the big house – and I do mean the White House. One coat in Peridot green cashmere was created for a woman with connections to the Obamas– Poet Lauriat Elizabeth Alexander who was commissioned and read the poem at the Inauguration. Classic silhouettes in expensive fabrics never go out of style. But don’t think B Michael is all business. There is celebration in his work, whether in a fitted sheath dress with a seam of flirtatious fringe down the side or his finale piece, a robin’s egg blue trumpet gown with cashmere lace and a matching shrug framed with feathers.

Every piece featured luxurious fabrics and exquisite detailing. It’s not hard to believe that before fashion, B Michael was an account executive for a Wall Street firm where he must have catered to a clientele who demanded only the best for their money. The “ladies who lunch” have found their next designer and San Francisco’s social set is ready for him.

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