Last night’s first Lexus Fashion Week Runway Show kicked off the week with a huge turnout at the downtown Pinnacle Building. While there were a few hiccups, and the show began late, it was all because what we lack for in experience Nashville certainly makes up for in enthusiasm. There was no need to worry that a Tuesday evening show might be sparsely attended, the venue was a perfect mix of modern and elegant, with plenty of standing room for the locals who came prepared to be wowed.
The crowd was a blend of the young and hip, often in Imogene + Willie jeans, gentlemen in business suits, young ladies sporting this season’s high, high platforms with everything from a silver bubble skirt to fitted, sequined cocktail dresses. The show reflected the crowd’s diversity in taste and style by offering a mix from earthy to futuristic.
Jamie and the Jones began the evening with an understated collection of wearable looks in soft daffodil and khaki. The collection featured a number of wearable day dresses of soft, willowy fabrics with modern hand detailing. This was quite the contrast to the dim concrete and sleek technology featured in the night’s open view of Nashville’s Skyline from the Pinnacle Building’s 22nd Floor. The organic colors continued through the collection like a soft breath of spring. It wouldn’t be hard to picture a range of women, young and mature alike, wafting through Nashville’s Cheekwood Botanical Garden or Centennial Park in J+J’s flowy looks.
Our favorite of the collection, however, was the most dramatic. A graphic grass green and black number on the short side, with sheer dark sleeves, and what looked like a bold tear through the bodice. The unexpected contrast of a cocktail dress, sexy and soft, but contrasted with a modern take on appliqué gave a glimpse of the passion that lies beneath this designer’s eco consciousness and commitment to craftsmanship.
Akiko, a favorite of young starlets, presented a line of close fitting, well-draped pieces in the colors of a twilight city skyline. Just the sort of sleeveless tops and easy dresses one might see sported some early Saturday evening, by the well-toned and tanned outside a Green Hills hotspot. Looks were highlighted by unusual dyes in muted tones, but the refined cut and drape of each piece seemed to give our local models an easy grace.
We had a twiggy moment when xxx designer Loretta Jane's looks came around the corner. Short tunic dresses with contrasting tights, little boots and large Jackie O sunglasses were the order of the evening. It was a tasteful homage, as Ms. Jane brought a bevy of unusual touches. Many short looks had a peeking hem lined with a softer fabric in a contrasting color, and she more than any other designer of the evening mixed fabrics with aplomb while keeping the tone of the collection. The feel was as if this is the look for the woman with things to do, places to go, who wants to throw on something chic and easy, but still show her sartorial wit.
The night’s first collective intake of breath came with Sylvia Heisel’s first look. We immediately began referring to her as the Modern Victorian. A dramatic white blouse and full-length black skirt had the crowd anxious to see what would come next. There were coats and jackets in black, as well, but each piece flowed with a charm that betrayed their complex fit. Looks ranged from elegant suited separates one could easily take to the office with reasonable heels, and with a flourish of jewelry and an evening shoe, move amongst a crowd a la Joan Crawford in Mame. In contrast, the night’s first spontaneous applause came for a distinctly different look in silhouette and line—a halter neck evening gown of white satin touched with black edging at the neck, and a dramatic, unexpected but delicate splattering of black paint throughout Heisel brought us the drama of the night.
The evening’s closing left no one disappointed. Kevork Kiledjian ramped the contrast and range of talent even further. Wows went all around as the first looks appeared. Fantastically structured and fitted little numbers in leather, often looking laser cut and sharply backed with lace at vents or neckline. Kiledjian’s models came with cherry red lips and edgy, modern vamp. Looks were closely fitted, sexy leather things in bold colors you might expect to see in a Vegas night club. Nothing for the faint of heart. Kiledjian mixed futuristic, Matrix-inspired ensembles between the club girl pieces. Most outstanding, a wide fur jacket, in carmel and chocolate, edged at the neck in leather with tapered pants ending at the ankle. Even the models exuded a fierceness and strut they hadn’t for earlier shows. The finale, a camel strapless dress, edged in long fringe, seemed to mix the new and the old in a way that like Nashville, shows our strength and individuality.
The evening closed with a wild mix of fashion-goers, Predators fans and raucous soccer acolytes all mixing in Nashville’s damp streets on their way to Nashville’s Hot Spots. Suzy Wong’s, which hosted the evening’s after party, kept it fresh and fun, with mini takeout boxes for guests and a host of young people in exciting designs, dancing and calling out to NashFash goers to try something new. Cheryl Tiegs and Vogue photographers even seemed energized by the closely pressed crowd which still managed to be entirely polite in a very southern way.
We spotted one bemused Pinnacle Building security guard in the West Lobby, looking on as ladies in LBDs and pumps rushed to and fro with clipboards. Predators fans wandered through the lobby, and tourists stopped for directions. He summed up the night perfectly when asked for his take on the evening: "We’ve just added more lovely to a place that already knows how to welcome anyone.”