by Beth Hammarlund
Although Fashion Week Minnesota had already been going strong for a couple of days when I attended I AM Inspired, it was my first event of the week and acted as a strong kickoff for the busy string of shows that followed. Produced and hosted by Sarah Edwards, who co-founded and co-directs FWMN with Minnesota Monthly Style Editor Jahna Péloquin, the ambitious event served as both a fashion show and a glamorous cocktail party. The evening’s runway presentation featured looks from six area boutiques, with fashion styling by Alex Kelm.
Hazel & Rose
Northeast Minneapolis boutique Hazel & Rose promotes sustainable fashion without sacrificing aesthetics. For I AM Inspired, the shop shared six looks of easy mix-and-match pieces in a palette of neutrals and pastels. A dove gray blouse paired with light creamy culottes was a standout look.
I’ve reviewed New Ulm boutique Semblance several times in the past, and I don’t think I’ve ever found a single negative thing to say about them. That tradition continued at last week’s event, where the boutique presented a selection of dresses and separates that were sophisticated and on-trend, but most of all, felt easy. The majority of the pieces were clean and simple, but I was particularly taken by the single element of business: a dark floral print found layered under dresses and tunics. If you’re looking for a crisp autumn day trip, consider making the short drive southwest for an afternoon of shopping in their beautifully curated space. You can hit up Minnesota’s Largest Candy Store on the way down. Everybody wins.
MERILOU Boutique kept up the evening’s tradition of clean easy dressing, but a welcome pop of plaid and earthy colors captured that back-to-school feeling of new fall clothes. The poncho has been on the verge of making a huge comeback over the past several seasons, though it’s never quite recaptured the glory of its reign in the early 2000s. But pieces like the simple plaid poncho shown during MERILOU’s segment could change that. It was crisp and tailored, without a fringe in sight.
My Sister is an organization devoted to ending sex trafficking, both by donating a portion of their profits to anti-sex trafficking foundations and creating statement tanks and tees that promote feminism and women’s ownership of their own bodies. It was especially exciting to see the tops styled with bright African prints and bold colorful jewelry. Most of the evening’s palettes were fairly muted, and the vibrant styling of My Sister’s segment made it stand out in guests’ memories.
The runway segment for Stephanie’s St. Paul featured a mixture of textures, including knits, leather, fur, denim and lace. The tactile nature of the styling was playful and polished, and it actually got me excited for the upcoming winter months. As much as I don’t look forward to scraping my windshield in sub-zero weather, late fall and winter dressing allows for a lot of creativity with layering and texture, and Stephanie’s segment tapped into that successfully.
bluebird boutique, located at 50th & France, featured my two favorite items of the evening: an off-the-shoulder black knit wiggle dress and a chunky textured sweater tufted with creamy fur. Their segment was luxe and fall-friendly, a fitting finale for the evening.
The styling was chic and sophisticated, with hair by the Intelligent Nutrients team and makeup by Davaj Artistry.* With a few exceptions, the models’ hair was loose and laid-back, whether it was piled and pinned or worn loose around their shoulders. Makeup started light and fresh, enhancing the models’ natural beauty with hints of iridescence. In My Sister’s segment, the brightly colored clothing was complimented by occasional pops of yellow and blue on eyelids, while in Stephanie’s and bluebird boutique’s segments, a deeper lip was unfussy and elegantly autumnal.
The event was held at the Intelligent Nutrients event space in Northeast Minneapolis. Guests passed luxury cars on display in the parking lot (Jaguar and Ferrari, about as posh as you can get) and walked into a cocktail party accompanied by music from harpist James Buxton. I AM Inspired’s featured artist, painter Caitlin Karolczak, had several paintings on display throughout the venue. Although including a local artist was an excellent idea, the parlor in Intelligent Nutrients is a fully decorated space. Without didactics or more prominent signage, it was easy to mistake the artwork for part of the venue’s usual decor.
Guests nibbled (or gorged, if you’re me) on a luscious spread of fruits, cheeses and sweets, and the evening’s signature cocktail was an invigorating potion of AVIV vodka, Pink Robot Kombucha, an Intelligent Nutrients aroma spirit, and fresh peels of pink grapefruit. The first 100 guests were treated to a lovely gift bag of goodies, including a new Elixery lipstick in “Sideshow,” a killer brown-raisin.
There was plenty to enjoy at I AM Inspired, but with so much to take in (fashion, music, art, cars) the event’s mission was a bit nebulous. Host and producer Sarah Edwards asked the audience what it means to be inspired, but I’m still not sure what exactly that question means in the context of a fashion show. I find fashion, art and music inspiring, and I love looking at Jags as much as the next girl that can’t afford one, but I think the event would benefit from a sharper focus on the participating boutiques, as well as a lower ticket price. (Unless it’s a benefit, $50 is too much to charge for a fashion event in the Twin Cities.)
*Full disclosure: I have my eyebrows and eyelashes done by Pa Da at Davaj Artistry and am hopelessly devoted to her.
photos by Jay Larson Photography and courtesy of FWMN