To understand the level of talent here in the Queen City in regard to fashion, all you need to do is simply attend FashionSOUL, happening May 5 at Amos' Southend. The brainchild of local style guru Joey Hewell, the event, a fundraiser for the Humane Society of Charlotte, promises to be a fantastical evening with a runway show and performances by Angela Lopez, Spiral, Queen City Theatre Company, VESS and Culture Initiative. With a total of six designers showcasing their looks, we thought it best to get to know each of them a little better.
Designer/Artist: Andre Jarred
Company: Styles by Andre
Andre Jarred is the youngest of this design extravaganza, but boy, does he have a knack for style. He's fairly new on the local scene, having started designing only three years ago. Styling is his forte, but when he tapped into his designing talents, things just started to take off. A self-proclaimed "vintage head," he takes pieces from various thrift stores and reconstructs them to make them his own. "I shop in my grandmother's closet a lot, and some of the pieces that I will have in this show are from there," he says.
Jarred admits he considers fashion as art: "I look at people as my blank canvas, and I look at the clothes as my paint. When I'm done with my painting, I have created a masterpiece of art."
His goal? To one day become internationally known.
Designer/Artist: Caleb Clark
Company: Enemy To Fashion
Although Enemy To Fashion launched only a few years ago, the name alone is enough to intrigue any fashion lover. During my most recent conversation with Clark, I asked how he got involved in FashionSOUL. His response? "I lost a bet to Joey Hewell."
Clark says his company doesn't currently produce any women's items. "These types of shows give us an opportunity to work on some conceptual pieces for female models," he says. He also notes that this will be the first time he's created pieces with his wife. The collection should be very interesting, especially if his other half feels as he does regarding his definition of fashion: "It's all a costume," he says. "I try not to take it all too seriously."
Designer/Artist: Tara Davis
Company: FLOW by Tara Davis
Tara Davis is a seasoned professional in the world of fashion, as she's showcased in a number of events, in addition to having products available for sale in local boutiques. She calls herself a "rare commodity" because she is a true Charlottean.
Davis describes her design aesthetic as "cosmopolitan chic" and classifies it as "modern style with a touch of vintage." She wants to see her brand mass marketed in the future as well as one day have her own local design house. Davis says that her inspiration comes from "all elements of life, from nature to color to architectural details."
Designer/Artist: David Watkins
Company: House of ABBEYDALE
Another "rare commodity" designer in this particular show is David Watkins. This Queen City native says he "really wants to plant my flag for this city."
The ABBEYDALE presentation will be all about blue, says the designer. "I have never seen a man not look good in blue and it's a foundation color I start all of my clients with. I want to show multiple ways of wearing it." When asked how he defines fashion, Watkins says he tries not to. "Fashion is a tough word for me as related to menswear. It sounds a little trend-driven for what I am trying to get across because there's just too much throwaway fashion in menswear. ABBEYDALE is all about pieces that look good today as well as 20 years from now."
Designer/Artist: Cigi Guz
Company: V. Vill
Last year at FashionSOUL, when Cigi Guz sent her menswear looks down the runway, audience members couldn't help but smile. That's just indicative of the type of person she is. Guz owns and operates V.Vill in Value Village on Central Avenue. "I promise, you will never stumble upon a hidden vintage shop inside of a thrift store anywhere in the U.S.," she says. "I'm extremely proud that Charlotte can add that amongst the many amazing things this city has to offer."
Guz's showcase will be dedicated to her Value Village family for believing in her "crazy vision of a 'speakeasy boutique.'" When asked what she would want people to know about her and who she is as a designer, her response is classic Cigi. "I love God, high heels, Jameson, and making people feel empowered through fashion. I personally find, wear and sell really amazing garments, but ultimately it's my goal to serve my clients and help them discover their own personal style. Not what's trending or in, but rather what speaks to them."
Designer/Artist: Caroline Cook
Company: FROCK Shop
Rounding out the bunch is Caroline Cook, owner of FROCK Shop, who has been resurrecting vintage clothing and accessories for decades. When asked about her design aesthetic for FROCK Shop's REVIVAL collection, Cook says it has been an "organic process of discovery and imagination. The principle behind our designs is to preserve garments and accessories that rouse the imagination."
Cook says she's in love with the collection she'll be showing this Saturday. She describes it as "a romantic and fresh embodiment of FROCK Shop's focus to breathe new life into fashion's past." Recently, she opened a new FROCK Shop space in Plaza Midwood, partnering with MoNA Gallery. When asked where she saw herself in five years, her response was simply lovely: "Five years is half a decade! Life is short. Dress for it now."