Memphis’ top fashion influencers and designers swarmed this year’s Memphis Fashion Week (MFW).
Beginning with a trunk show on April 11, MFW hosted a luncheon with fashion designer, stylist and author Rachel Roy and ended with two fashion shows over the weekend. The week highlighted some of hottest fashions from veteran designers from Memphis and surrounding areas. Several collections dazzled the crowd at the Featured Designer show (April 13), with the standouts including the collection by Tiena Gwin.
“Honestly, I’ve been designing my whole life it seems,” said Gwin, an Arkansas School of Fashion graduate, who made her leap of faith into entrepreneurship five years ago. “It was a hard transition. I was laid off from my job, so I made a conscious decision to make my talents to school. …I really didn’t know what I was going to do after graduation either.”
In 2014, an opportunity came from Abby Phillips, director of the Memphis Fashion Network and creator of Memphis Fashion Week.
“I was selected to present a 10-piece collection as an emerging designer, and for me that was the start of my fashion career,” says Gwin. “I’ve been an emerging designer twice and 2018 makes my second year as a featured designer.
“It’s a profitable platform that I’m blessed to be part of. Just being able to showcase my designs is very major, especially as a black female designer; considering the opportunities in this type of business is super competitive and even more competitive for women of color.”
The show featured an array of bold colors and traditional seamless patterns with a warm modern touch.
“I consider my pieces to be simple, yet classic and daring. You can wear them anywhere, any time of the day,” said Gwin. “My look is for the daring everyday woman.”
It was the seventh year for the Memphis Fashion Week production.
“Our mission (is) showcasing the art and creating opportunity for these talented designers … and (creating) a way for them to generate revenue in the process,” said Phillips. “Tiena has been exceptional and stepped up her talent every year and that’s what we look for at the Memphis Fashion Lab.”
Gwin said the opportunities to work with the Memphis Design Lab “has allowed me to showcase my pieces on higher platforms such as New York Fashion Week.”
Nigerian fashion designer Ituen Basi wowed the crowd with African-themed pieces also on display at the Brooks Museum of Art through August 12.
Curvy fashion influencer and blogger Rochelle Johnson from “I Am Beauti Curve” brought her business to MFW from Little Rock.
“This is my first year spectating, and I honestly thought I was going to be the only black person here,” she said. “Events like this are so awesome, simply because it creates exposure and opens doors for those that are just fans of fashion.
“I want to be able to take my experience and bring awareness to other African-American fashionistas that too may be interested in covering upscale events such as this.”
The “Emerging Designers Project” at the Memphis College Art ended the weekend affair on. The show highlighted young and upcoming designers in the area, with Mary Ambrose and Demetrius Blayde of Demi Black Designs headlining the event.
“It’s always good to see those that will continue to keep the evolution of fashion growing” said Phillips. “It’s changing everyday and as we grow more and more each year, we hope all lovers of fashion – if it’s a designer, stylist, no matter color or race – just come out and support these artists.
“We want to create opportunity and we need those with the same ambition to make it happen.”