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Denim and the City

Local designer Vanessa Froehling has denim on the brain. Stonewashed, herringbone print, chambray, stretch and black denim, to be sure.

In her home studio, Froehling flips through hangers of designs, including sailor-style high-waisted women’s shorts, a men’s blazer and a women’s jumpsuit.

Vanessa Froehling, left, auditioning for FashioNXT in July. Photo courtesy Jeff Wong.

photos:evening dresses uk

“It’s something that’s in everyone’s closet and it will never go out of style,” says Froehling of the French-born fabric (denim’s etymology comes from “de Nîmes,” the French town where Levis Strauss first procured the tough cotton twill for your 501s). But, she adds, “people are stuck on what denim can do.”

The line is called Carpe Denim and it’s Froehling’s entry into FashioNXT (self-described as “Portland’s Official Fashion Week”) — not to be confused with Portland Fashion Week — three days and nights of runway shows in early October. She will present Carpe Denim in the UpNXT competition, the “emerging designers accelerator,” alongside four other Pacific Northwest designers the evening of Oct. 5.

The fashion week has a cozy relationship with Project Runway, the fashion-designer reality show running since 2004, and, in fact, two of the judges assessing the competition are Seth Aaron (winner of Project Runway season 7) and Michelle Lesniak (winner of season 11).

In 2015, Froehling applied to both Portland Fashion Week and FashioNXT, but was only accepted by the former that time. She says auditioning in front of the FashioNXT judges was intimidating.

“My nerves were like, ‘What do I do with my hands?’” Froehling says, shaking her hands by her sides and laughing. The judges were tough, she recalls, and they recommended that she develop the marketability and cohesion of her line.

Over the past year, she took their advice to heart and decided she would try out again, this time with a denim ready-to-wear line, a departure from the couture gowns that have distinguished her style. She took inspiration from the city — recalling watching the denizens of Portland walk by, falling in love with their street-wear style — and the layers of people, buildings and traffic.

Eight jean looks — five for women and three for men — will walk the runway, but rest assured, this will be no orgy of Canadian tuxedos. Although denim is the common thread, the designs feature smart juxtapositions against black leather and a colorful textile that looks like a cross between gas puddles and graffiti.

The self-taught designer has also developed several innovative details: a woman’s denim peplum jacket that unzips at the waist, transforming it into a more casual cropped jacket; women’s stretch leather pants that zip open at the knee, a nod to ripped jeans; and a men’s chambray shirt with the illusion of a double collar creating a fresh origami effect.

This summer, the judges welcomed Froehling on the FashioNXT train.

Froehling says one judge told her that she’s the first designer to return the following year to try out again after being rejected.

“It’s the highest fashion production in Oregon,” she says.

The winner will be announced at the after-party Oct. 5, and the prize package secures a spot for the designer in the main runway show in 2017 and includes business mentorships, feature stories inPortland Monthly and Portland Mercury, and a strategic marketing course at Portland Fashion Institute.

Look for photos of Froehling’s Carpe Denim line from the runway on the Eugene Weekly blog after Oct. 5; the designs are under quarantine until after the runway show.

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Say ‘Yes’ to the (homecoming) dress

Airline senior Courtland Dilley was chest deep in a sea of rhinestones and tulle as she searched for the perfect evening dresses for homecoming.

It’s a process that usually begins months in advance, but Friday was the first chance she’s had between dance classes and school functions to actually go shopping.

“I don’t want anything puffy and no cupcake dresses,” she said aloud, browsing through racks at A Yellow Ribbon: Formal Wear in Bossier City. “Blue is a good color and black is one of my favorite colors. I think I want something with a slim fit.”

After pulling a variety of styles, both long and short, it was time to try them on. There were two important things she was looking for.

“It has to be classy and it must be comfortable,” Courtland said.

The first one she walked out in was a short, A-line Sherri Hill dress in her favorite color, blue. The second dress was, again, blue, but in a longer style. The form fitting dress in jersey knit material brought out a certain smile in her that the first one didn’t.

One by one, she came out of the dressing room and stepped up onto the platform. Dress three, four and five just didn’t compare to that second one.

She had to put it back on.

“Oh, I love it,” Courtland said, standing in front of the full length mirror. “I like it more the second time on. It’s soft and it feels good. It’s so simple and has what I’m looking for.”

Gerry Shephard has heard those words and witnessed those moments many times in the 28 years she has owned A Yellow Ribbon. It’s a busy time of year for her and fellow Bossier dress shops, Sloan’s Formals and Azarue’s Bridal & Formal.

Shephard said a contributing factor to the increase in business is I-49.

“We started getting a lot of people coming in from north Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas,” she said. “They can get here in about an hour whereas it would take them two or more hours to drive to Dallas.”

All three shops agree that floral prints and two piece are the trending styles right now. Sabrina Durham, Sales and Marketing Manager for Azarue’s Bridal & Formal in Bossier, said there are a lot of cutting edge designs on the racks this year.

“The dresses look more fashion forward,” she said. “We’re seeing more velvet and chokers this year…a lot of daring dresses with bold patterns too.”

Patti Maughon, owner of Sloan’s Formals, said they are getting in new dresses every week. Sloan’s opened its doors in April and has increased traffic through their store by word of mouth.

“We try to have a one-on-one experience with every customer,” Maughon said. “We want to build that relationship with the customers because it makes a big difference in the overall experience. We also encourage our customers to take pictures when they are trying on dresses. They can send them to their friends and get their opinions, too.”

One thing that’s proven successful is hiring a younger sales team. Durham said they have “fashion ambassadors” that check in and post photos of the dresses they have in stock.

“We employed girls from local schools in all shapes and sizes so customers can see what the dresses look like on a real person,” Durham said. “It has worked well for us.”

Sloan’s has a similar business tactic.

“We’ve got a wide range of styles and sizes…from 00 to plus size,” Maughon said. “My girls and I can help them find whatever they are looking for. It definitely helps to have younger girls working with you because they know what’s trending and what looks good.”

No matter the style, color or look desired, students, like Courtland, won’t have to travel far to say ‘yes’ to a evening dresses uk this homecoming season.

04:18 Publié dans dress | Tags : homecoming, dress, shop | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)


My quest to find the perfect mother-of-the-bride dress

It’s nerve-wracking, this mother-of-the-bride evening dresses business.

I don’t want to be too dowdy. Or too sleazy. Or too matchy-matchy with the other moms, or the bride, or the bridal party or even the wall color of the reception hall (“Where’s Ellen?").

Also, as the third-string mom behind my stepdaughter’s mom and the groom’s mom I have to let them go first. I’m not that vital.

So no navy. That’s the bridesmaids' color.

No purple. Her mom’s dress.

No white or ivory. The bride’s colors.

Also, the wedding is in December. So no sleeveless, or I’ll need a wrap.

Also, the dress has to be comfortable. Nothing that will cut off the circulation.

So it is a big challenge.

But I am determined.

And I am not alone in my quest.

Marriages on rise

After years of trending downward, marriage is coming back in style. Millennials finally (finally!) have started getting married.

In 2015, Michigan recorded the highest marriage rate and the most marriages in nine years. There were 58,848 marriages with 11.86 persons married per 1,000, unpublished state figures obtained by the Free Press show.

This trend echoes an upturn in the national marriage rate that began in 2014, after more than a decade in the doldrums.

More weddings, however, mean there also are more mothers of the brides and grooms out there, running around wringing their hands worrying about what they’re going to wear.

Experts say that a lot of their attire problems come because, well, moms are moms.

“Mom waits until the very last minute. She puts herself last. She’s not thinking about herself. It’s sweet, but I want to tell them, 'You deserve something beautiful, too; you need to feel fabulous, too,' ” says Amanda Cover, co-owner of Bombshell Bridal Boutique in St. Clair Shores.

Moms also wait because they want the dress to fit.

“I see moms who wait because they’re going to lose 20 pounds,” says Laura Van Vliet, owner of Eva’s Bridal in Garden City. “We carry a large number of dresses they can buy off the rack.”

On the other hand, some moms, like me, delay because of fear. What if they pick the wrong color or style? What if they embarrass themselves? What if they look like a dud?

Buy PhotoMother of the bride dresses at Alessandra Bridal in Warren. (Photo: Ellen Creager/Detroit Free Press)

Trendy colors, styles

Before I head to the store, I need to know. What dress would make me trendy?

This year, the hot colors for moms’ dresses are navy, plum and wine, with black, gold, gray and taupe also doing well, says Cree Kelly, a bridal consultant for 30 years who works at Alessandra Bridal in Warren.

“Navy is the new black,” she says. As for length, almost all dresses are long.

In terms of decoration, lace is popular, she says, showing off a black lace dress with a nude lining. Heavily beaded dresses, metallic fabrics, gold lamé that harkens back to the 1960s, “and believe it or not, sequins” are also trending, which all add to the price.

Shoes are “silver, gold or neutral, no dyed shoes,” says Janise Ventimiglia, owner of Arena Bridal in Shelby Township.

As for sleeve length, most dresses, sadly, are sleeveless even though most moms hate sleeveless. What is that about?

“That is something I ask my designers every season we meet,” says Cover, whose store caters to plus-size moms.

The answer is that dresses with sleeves are harder to fit women properly, because bridal fabrics don't stretch. Dresses with sleeves also cost more. In the tailoring process, sleeves can be added to most dresses, or some moms wear wraps or shawls that match the dress.

Some younger moms want to show off well-toned upper arms. But truthfully, I am sure, most moms would rather cover that part up.

As for the style of the dress itself, almost anything goes — within reason. Nobody wants to be that mom, the one who commits a terrible faux pas. One time, Cover recalls, a mother of the bride insisted on wearing white to match her daughter’s wedding dress.

“The bride was not having it. She was very upset,” Cover says. “It put us in a really difficult situation.”

So does the mom who picks a show-off, glamorous dress to outshine the bride.

“We definitely have had a few times where the dress that mom picks is really, really sexy,” Cover says. “Not that mom can’t be sexy, but in my mind it is not appropriate.”

There is only one way a mom can be absolutely sure of doing the right thing for the wedding — ask the bride her preferences, says Ventimiglia: “There’s no right or wrong," she says. "It’s about what the bride wants.”

Buy PhotoMother of the bride dresses at Alessandra Bridal in Warren. (Photo: Ellen Creager/Detroit Free Press)

Shopping issues

I may have only 10 weeks before the wedding, but ideally, moms should start shopping for a dress six months ahead.

Some moms buy a dress off the rack at department stores like Nordstrom or Lord & Taylor. They are known for their mother-of-the-bride dress selection. Off the rack is fine, except for the remote possibility that a wedding guest may show up in the same dress you’re wearing.

Some women go online to order from suspiciously inexpensive, foreign mother-of-the-bride dress websites, not realizing there are no returns if the dress doesn’t fit or they hate it. (Always stick to known sites that allow full returns for any reason.)

Other women order at bridal salons. This is where you get the best selection of styles and colors. Dresses usually need to be ordered weeks or months ahead. It also can be intimidating, standing there in front of the consultants, trying on dress after dress with samples usually too small or too large. But you get personal service and a trained eye.

Buy PhotoTrying on mother-of-the-bride dresses can be a nervewracking experience. (Photo: Ellen Creager/Detroit Free Press)

Black? Really?

After discussing all these trends with the experts, I’ve got a few more questions.

The first is about black, and whether it is considered bad luck to wear it.

No. Times have changed. If the bride and groom are fine with black, experts say go for it.

Second: Should a mom’s dress match the bridesmaid dresses?

Not usually, experts say. Most moms wear complementary colors to the bridesmaids' dresses so everyone looks good in pictures. If the bridal party is in navy, for example, try purple, silver or cranberry, not bright fuchsia.

Third: Which mom chooses a dress first? The order is still mother of the bride, then mother of the groom, then any other moms. (Speaking as a longtime stepmom, I checked with both the bride's mom and groom’s mom before shopping. I’ve been a stepmom since the bride was four years old, and I am so flattered and thrilled to be included by her as another “mom” in her wedding plans.)

Fourth: What if I change my mind at the last minute? Changing dresses is an expensive decision but not that uncommon, consultants say. In fact, Van Vliet just helped a woman on a Monday buy a dress that was being tailored to be ready on Friday for a Saturday wedding.

“She hated her dress and said it was so uncomfortable she just couldn’t wear it,” she says. The kicker? This will be the mom’s third dress. She couldn’t wear the first one she bought because it was navy, same color as the other mother’s dress.

Buy PhotoMother of the bride dresses at Alessandra Bridal in Warren. (Photo: Ellen Creager/Detroit Free Press)

Finally, a dress I like

With all these rules and trends in my head, I admit I am a little nervous. But armed with the information, I step in to Brides by Demetrios in Troy. Seven years ago I had good luck there purchasing another mother of the bride dress.

This time, I am lectured sternly about coming in too late, or nearly too late.

A consultant helps me try on about 25 dresses.

I find a dress I like — then learn it will not arrive until Dec. 2 for the Dec. 3 wedding. That won’t do. So then I finally find one with a bit of bling on the shoulders, a flattering waist, an order time that will get it here in time for it to be tailored. And yes, it comes in cranberry, the color my stepdaughter is enthusiastic about.

It’s sleeveless, but I can wear a black velvet wrap if it’s cold.

So it looks good. I feel good. It’s not too flashy or too dowdy or too tight, which, ladies, if you think about it, is all you really need in a mother-of-the-bride dress.

So I'm ready. Let the wedding begin.

​Contact Detroit Free Press travel writer Ellen Creager: 313-222-6498 or ecreager@freepress.com,

Buy PhotoArena Bridal in Shelby Township has mother of the bride dresses galore. (Photo: Ellen Creager/Detroit Free Press)

Five rules for mothers of the bride and groom

1. Be a no-drama mama.

2. The bride is the boss, so chat with her before dress shopping.

3. You deserve to look nice. Don’t sell yourself short. Shop early.

4. Mom of the bride gets first dibs on dresses. Mom of groom goes second.

5. Have fun.

Be glad it’s not 1950

On my bookshelf I keep a copy of the 1950 edition of “Etiquette” by Emily Post. Her elaborate guidelines for weddings in those days included advice for mothers of the bride and groom. Mothers were expected to wear hats and gloves. For evening weddings, mothers wore “evening hats” or hair ornaments or veils. Weddings between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. required “daytime dresses”. Evening weddings required “dinner dresses.” Dress colors had to be “light in color or bright — and never black unless relieved with color.”

New Emily Post Institute guidelines are a lot more relaxed. “The old concept that both moms are supposed to look matronly was retired long ago, along with the colorless advice that the mother of the groom should wear beige,” it reassures moms. “Long evening dresses uk and skirts are fine for any wedding from noon on.”

04:22 Publié dans bridal | Tags : bride, dress, marieprom | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)