Thursday, October 17, 2013

St. Louis Fashion Week: A Recap

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I have to admit, when I first received an invite to St. Louis Fashion Week, I was maybe just a little bit nervous. My participation in any sort of NYFW events has waned over the past few years, due in part to work, but also because I always end up feeling a little silly, self-conscious, and out of place at the NYFW events. But, I was excited too -- so excited -- because, come on, what an amazing opportunity to explore a new city (I knew nothing of St. Louis prior to visiting), meet new people, and participate in some amazing events in a more...low key, less stressed out setting! Well, St. Louis and it's accompanying fashion week was, indeed, wonderful, and I'm happy to share my experience with you today! So, get ready for the longest post ever. This was the definition of biting off more than I could chew...

Day 1.
After transferring planes in Atlanta, I found myself seated to next to Megan of TFDiaries, who I would be rooming with at The Cheshire Hotel. It was great to get to know her a little before we landed and jumped head first into the events of the weekend. And it's true, once our feet hit the ground in St. Louis, we didn't stop moving until Sunday.
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We were whisked from the airport straight to the first event: a presentation and lunch at the home of Anjali Kamra, the designer behind local St. Louis brand Rungolee. Slowly the rest of the visiting bloggers descended upon the home and, after rounds of introductions -- including an awkward and near-speechless handshake (on my part) with Fern Mallis, founder of NYFW (what do you even say?? Seriously, I might be the worst conversationalist ever. I should carry around cue cards with talking points.) --  we sat down to an amazing lunch before winding our way up the spiral staircase to catch a glimpse of Anjali's inspiring home studio. As we made our way back down, one by one, we were met with the grand finale: models dressed head to toe in intricately sequined and embroidered designs, hallmarks of Rungolee, arranged in vignettes throughout the house. It was beautiful, such a fun way to present the collection, and the perfect kick-off to our STLFW experience.
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After checking in to our rooms and a quick rest, we headed out for happy hour and tapas at a neighboring restaurant before descending on Industry Night, which featured not only emerging St. Louis designers -- such as Susan Lay, Pauline Gibson, and Anna Friss -- but national designers -- such as Eva Franco and Samantha Pleet -- as well.
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I really enjoyed getting an up-close look at the collections during the runway shows, I love viewing collections online, but the cohesiveness can definitely be lost when you're viewing it one look at a time in a slideshow. Plus, it's fascinating to watch these models walk.
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Day 2.
On day two in St. Louis we got to play tourists! Emerging bright and early from The Cheshire, we boarded our transportation for the day: the most majestic of all the party buses, complete with pole. Stripper pole. What a weird time warp to be on one of those things during the harsh light of day, sipping a coffee instead of a cocktail. It was, however, the perfect mode of transportation for a bunch of girls with a whole bunch of stuff. So off we went, our first stop: The Brown Shoe Company, home to brands like Dr. Scholls, Fergie, and Naturalizer, where we were treated to a panel discussion with representatives from each brand.
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Then we were off once again, our next destination the overwhelmingly amazing (and free) St. Louis Art Museum. Dear god, this place was incredible, and definitely a highlight of my trip. Beuys! Albers! Beckmann! Bourgeois! I could have happily stayed here all day, sitting and gazing at artwork I've only seen in books. If anything solidified my desire to return to St. Louis, it was the incredible contemporary collection at the SLAM.
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Unfortunately we couldn't stay there all day, so back on the party bus it was. In quick succession we visited the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, the St. Louis Central Public Library, the arch, and the St. Louis Citygarden. Phew! It was a whirlwind afternoon, but I'm so thankful that we were able to get a glimpse of the city, and it was gorgeous. Along the way we stopped off for cocktails and macarons. Because one can not subsist off coffee alone.
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After a quick change back at the Cheshire, we hopped back on the bus for our thrift shopping trip with Savers. I'm sure it doesn't surprise you in the least that this was my second-favorite activity, after the art museum. Savers is by far my favorite thrift store, I used to visit the one that was close to our place in Massachusetts on a near bi-weekly basis, and the thrift store chain is sorely missed here in Pittsburgh. So yes, I went a little nuts. Ending up with what felt like a 20 pound bag that I lugged onto the plane with zero shame at all.
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(The only photo I got of Savers, because I was busy with the thrifts)
Day 3.
Up bright and early once again, I quickly grabbed a coffee from the hotel lobby before jumping in a cab with the other bloggers to make our way to breakfast with Saks Fifth Avenue. This was my first time stepping foot in a Saks store, and well, it was interesting being surrounded by so much opulence and so many beautiful things. While at Saks, we were treated to a viewing of Tess Giberson's upcoming collection, and a Q&A with the designer.
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Then it was on to Neiman Marcus (another new-to-me experience) for lunch and a presentation of fall looks.
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After a welcome rest back at the Cheshire, we headed out for our last evening in the city. As a conclusion to our weekend in St. Louis, we paid a visit to the World Chess Hall of Fame for a preview of the upcoming A Queen Within Exhibition featuring work by Alexander McQueen. I already wanted to return to St. Louis for the art museum, but now my resolution was solidified: I must come back to see the full exhibition. Incredible doesn't even begin to describe the garments that will be on display for this show, which opens on October 19th. 
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Day 4.
On our last day in the city, I spent my morning chugging coffee and stuffing squeezing shoving packing my belongings, attempting to figure out just how I would transport all my Savers finds home, preferably without looking like the crazy lady on the plane with the thrift store bag (spoiler: this is exactly how I looked). Once my bags were packed I met up with Erin and we went to meet the others at Central Table for a final brunch. Once we had eaten, with a couple of hours to spare, we managed to fit in a little vintage shopping at Retro 101/ Cherry Bomb Vintage before catching our cab to the airport.
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(The two photos above are from The Cheshire)

 St. Louis and St. Louis Fashion Week was truly an incredible experience. It was wonderful spending my four days there with a group of amazing bloggers, and I can't wait to visit this vibrant city again. A huge 'Thank You' to Alive Magazine and the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission for allowing me the opportunity to participate in STLFW!