Delicate tendrils of baby’s breath adorn tousled braids — suggesting a wildness — while accents of elegant lace add a subtle, feminine flourish to a geometric and modern garment, calmly coasting down the runway. Then, moments later, you’re transported to a Tim Burton-esque world where dramatic faces with piercing eyes are eclipsed only by the opulent waves of silken material that seems to climb skyward in gorgeous folds, giving the wearer an air of otherworldly power.
Wait a few minutes more and a parade of dresses fashioned in non-traditional duct tape, wrapping paper, broken CDs, peacock feathers and copper scraps — all held together with only glue, tape or staples — decorate the runway in an endless stream of exciting creativity. The designs are made more impressive when one learns that these innovative garments were designed by middle school and high school designers taking on the Rising Star Design Challenge in hopes of winning a scholarship from Savannah College of Art and Design or The University of Alabama.
That is what’s remarkable about Birmingham Fashion Week (BFW): It is not only impressive to see the wealth of fashion talent coming from Birmingham’s professional designers, emerging artists and aspiring local youngsters alongside national designers — not to mention the all-local models and makeup and hair stylists — but it is most moving to see them delight in the chance to display their art form in a professional forum. There is something ephemeral and undeniably magical in seeing artists realize the colors, emotions and inspiration that usually kick around in their hearts and minds. As they step onto the shiny white runway, there is a palpable sense of concentrated elation, artistic freedom and heightened purpose that is breathtaking and beautiful to behold.
To see more of these gorgeous garments and to meet the designers behind the labels, we visited with two designers featured at BFW 2016.
Meet Birmingham’s own Heidi Elnora, designer of the heidi elnora label and owner of the new heidi elnora Atelier on historic Morris Avenue. Heidi cut her fashion teeth at Savannah College of Art and Design then took her knack for couture bridalwear all the way to the first season of “Project Runway” to the starring role in TLC’s “Bride by Design.” Her wedding gowns capture a timeless, feminine aesthetic in clean lines with modern details. Meet Heidi and read more here.
Meet designer and New York City native Angela George of Alice & Trixie, whose elegant bohemian designs in vibrant patterns and colors are inspired by the hip streets of the Big Apple, the seaside luxury of the East Hamptons and the global flavors of her travels abroad. Read our interview with Angela here.
In its sixth year and held at the historic Boutwell Auditorium on August 25 – 27, 2016, this all-volunteer nonprofit has been committed to impacting The Magic City’s youth and economy in a positive manner and altering the face of the Southern fashion industry while setting the stage for future generations. But, this year, co-founders Heidi Elnora and Jeanna Lee Thompson announced that this Birmingham Fashion Week might be the last. With the incredible growth of the event — which relies solely upon ticket sales, sponsorships and volunteers — it has become too demanding for the two co-founders to orchestrate alone.
After seeing this year’s Birmingham Fashion Week, we certainly hope that our community will rally to save this one-of-a-kind fashion event that supports emerging designers and future fashion stars. It truly is a Magic City original!