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The most fashionable week in town is just a few days away — Memphis Fashion Week is April 4 through 9. Now in its fifth year, MFW is the brainchild of Abby Phillips, a former talent agent whose love of fashion and knack for talent spotting was the perfect combination of skills needed to put Memphis on the fashion design map. In that short period of time, MFW has gone from a two-day event to a full five-day affair. In 2012, in the event’s first year, a number of stores including Joseph, Oak Hall and Kittie Kyle threw their support behind Abby. Now, Abby has built MFW into a see-and-be-seen event with 22 sponsors including those original supporters, two free events for the community and three ticketed events that always sell out.

memphis fashion week is almost here!
Memphis Fashion Week model Abbay Gourley, in an outfit featuring pieces from MFW sponsors Kittie Kyle, More Therapy and Indigo, photographed in the newly remodeled Buster’s Liquors & Wines | Image: Lawrence Hsai

A main focus of MFW is the chance to cultivate homegrown design talent through grants to attend the Memphis College of Art‘s fashion design program. The Emerging Memphis Designer Project, created by MFW and financially supported by the Memphis Fashion Fund, ensures new designers’ ideas make it from the sketchpad to the runway. The collections of the Emerging Designers will be featured at a runway show Friday evening, April 8, at the Memphis College of Art. On Saturday evening, April 9, the EMDP audience choice winners will show their collections alongside designer collections from local boutiques in a runway show that closes out the week.

MFW 2013 at the Cadre. Photo credit: Josh Colfer
The Memphis Fashion Week runway show at the Cadre Building showcases emerging designers. | Image: Josh Colfer

Over four nights next week, MFW will showcase local and national designers in a variety of locations across the city. Some MFW events are ticketed affairs and tend to sell out quickly. Others, including the opening party at Chickasaw Oaks and the Fashion Fund party at Saddle Creek, featuring freeze models (models wearing clothes from boutiques, who strike a pose and keep it), are open to the public. Here’s a closer look at the lineup of events:

Memphis Fashion Week 2016 Schedule

Monday, April 4, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Kick-Off Party at Chickasaw Oaks Village

The first event of Memphis Fashion Week is open to the public, with a percentage of sales from participating stores going to support the Memphis Fashion Fund. Participating stores will offer shopping specials, and there will be bites and cocktails by Simply Delicious Catering.

Participating stores:

Wednesday, April 6, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

VIP Preview Party at Lafayette’s Music Room

The VIP Preview Party, a exclusive gathering for those who buy VIP tickets for the week ($200 per person, and includes admittance to the preview party, and a VIP-only lounge at each of the runway shows), showcases the Emerging Memphis Designers Project designers and brings together MFW supporters, models, crew and designers for a festive celebration of Fashion Week.

runway VIP!
A row of VIP seating for the runway show | Image: Memphis Fashion Week

Thursday, April 7, from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Fashion Fund Party at the Shops of Saddle Creek

Shop, sip and see the latest fashions – and freeze models – while celebrating the Memphis Fashion Fund. Open to the public, the Fashion Fund Party takes place at the Shops of Saddle Creek in Germantown, including Anthropologie, White House|Black Market, Marmi, Janie and Jack and many others. Guests at this free event can win a makeover from MFW celebrity stylist Mary Conley (wife of Grizzlies star Mike Conley) and tickets to Memphis Fashion Week’s Saturday runway show.

Freeze models strike a pose during the 2014 Fashion Fund party. Image: Memphis Fashion Week
Freeze models (on the pedestals)  strike a pose during a previous Fashion Fund party. Image: Memphis Fashion Week
runway show
The runway shows feature emerging designers, as well as established local and national designers. Image: Memphis Fashion Week

Friday, April 8, at 8 p.m.

Featured Designers Runway Show at the Cadre Building

The first of the two MFW runway shows, the featured designers show, is a chance to see the spring and summer collections from top local boutiques. Designers include Abbey Glass presented by Joseph, Faherty Brand presented by Oak Hall, with freeze models by Sachi Memphis and Eclectic Eye, and Brave Design presented by Spruce.

Saturday, April 9, at 8 p.m.

Emerging Memphis Design Project Runway Show at the Memphis College of Art

The designers of the Emerging Memphis Designer Project will feature their collections alongside a selection of national designers from local boutiques, plus the Dilettante Collection Spring/Summer 2016 by Tara Skelley. (Be sure to read Monday’s FACES of Memphis, where we profiled Tara and you’ll see some of her new collection.)

Note: For both Friday and Saturday’s runway shows, general admission opens at 7:30 p.m., and seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Complimentary beer and wine will be available. There are no MFW events on Tuesday, April 5.

In the top image, photography by Lawrence Hsai Hair; makeup by Scot Robinson and Sarah at Pavo Salon; styling by Lauren Draffin


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Sally Walker