by Mellissa Thomas
The phrase “fashion show” usually conjures up images of malls, large hotel halls, clubs, and perhaps even large warehouses ornately transformed for the occasion. However, Fierce Entertainment Management, the team behind Orlando International Fashion Week, took a totally different angle. In the vein of its culture-rich spring show, Florida Fashion Weekend, which took place at Jai Art Gallery, the team partnered with the Orlando Museum of Art to host the Week’s Kickoff Press Party and Show Sunday, November 2, 2014 to a record-breaking 600 attendees. According to OMA staff, that’s the most people they’ve ever hosted at one time.
OIFW takes its “International” name seriously.
Miss International World Jenny Rosario, who is also the Week’s ambassador, emceed the event, which featured a diverse five-designer showcase in the Rotunda and a live concert featuring stellar local indie artists in the Auditorium: Ackera Williams, Katherine Beltran, Danielle Whitehead, Daniel Stewart, and Brianna Abregano.
German pianist Fabo Piano and guitarist Buddy Blues provided live tunes in the Rotunda between designers and during intermission. And at one point late in the show, shortly before the final designer presented her line, Rosario actually broke into fluent German conversation with Fabo, igniting the crowd.
The multicultural exhibition wasn’t lost on the attendees, either. Jorge Alvarado, media personality and host of “The Jorge Show” in Tampa, loved the press party:
“I looked out at the crowd and loved seeing the diversity – since fashion is sometimes seen as meant for only a certain group of people, when it’s really not. This says a lot about the diversity of Orlando, and ultimately the nation.”
The clothing boasted international appeal too.
The runway showcase opened with Sherilyn Bennett’s Spiritually Sweet, an inspirational clothing line, offering graphic shirts with catchy phrases for girls and young women.
Natalia Garcia’s KK Swimwear, hailing all the way from Miami, wowed the audience with its vibrant and brazen children’s swimwear line, even peppering in a few women’s swimsuits as well.
After the indie music concert in the Auditorium, the showcase continued with Frank Gay’s Rodeo Design line, which featured menswear stitched with rare expensive exotic furs, skins, and fabric accents. Gay, who has been designing clothing for over fifteen years (and more consistently within the last two), drew inspiration from his travels to South of France. He fell in love with the drapery he saw there. “I paid $3,500 for fabric I used in [tonight’s] show,” he noted. “It was originally a gift from the premier in India to the U.S. Ambassador to England.”
Rosemary Vargas’s Le Maison De La Rosse line featured elegant Oriental-themed gowns and evening dresses of polyester, chiffon, and silk, some offering diaphanous sashes, making the models look ready to float out of the room.
Isabel Tse’s Pletora women’s line, inspired by the eccentric but confident and functional fashions she encountered in Hong Kong, offered playful prints and fun-loving ensembles.
Rosalia Beautie’s Boca-Raton-based Athyntiq closed the show with irresistibly sexy women’s wear boasting bandage dresses, geometric designs, cutouts, and catchy prints, including the dress below.
The Stars of the Night
In addition to Miss International World Jenny Rosario and “The Jorge Show” host Jorge Alvarado, who also brought his lovely co-host Chanel Kissa and 104.5’s Viva Lakoi with him, OIFW brought out the brightest from all corners of Florida, including Miss Teen Horizonte USA Ivanimarie Torres Quiles (below), who modeled in the show.
The night’s biggest star was Fox X-Factor diva Lillie Nicole McCloud, who briefly shared her story with the audience and graced everyone with a powerful spine-tingling a cappella performance of what’s to come on her forthcoming album. Fierce Entertainment Management CEO Rob Henlon said she “practically sang the art off the walls.”
McCloud currently has two songs currently available on iTunes: “What About the Beautiful Children” and “The Other Part of Me.” She plans to let her community, or “angels” as she calls them, choose the album title based on the song list she’ll reveal at a later date.
She briefly discussed her X-Factor experience with OFM.
“[It was] very stressful,” she said with a laugh. “We had to be ready by 6 a.m. for pickup, seven days a week. We only got about four to five hours of sleep. But it was amazing to work with Kelly Rowland, and everything you’ve heard about Simon is true. What you see is exactly how he is.”
She noted that X-Factor was “a great launching ground.” She has since been on Christian Television Network, and has received several new opportunities, including being ambassador to Koske, Slovakia and a movie offer to portray Billie Holiday. She is scheduled to head to Atlanta next.
Missed out and want to join the fun? The week is still young. To check out the week’s schedule and purchase tickets, go to orlandointernationalfashionweek.com.
About the Author:
Orlando Fashion Magazine Chief Editor and Publisher Mellissa Thomas is a Jamaica-born writer. She’s a decorated U.S. Navy veteran with Entertainment Business Masters and Film Bachelors degrees from Full Sail University in Winter Park, FL.
She’s currently available for hire, writing content for websites, blogs, and marketing material, and as a book coach. She also writes poetry, screenplays, and ghostwrites books.
She has published four books, all available on Amazon.com. Her most recent release, Faded Diamonds, is now available in paperback on all major online book retailers and digitally available on the Kindle, Nook, and iBooks.
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