Raleigh Fashion Design Trends at fashionSPARK

September, 21, 2011, by Whitney Ayres Kenerly

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The fashionSPARK runway show featured 15 local clothing and jewelry designers on a runway staged in downtown’s City Plaza as part of SPARKcon festival.  Designers showcased their work and creativity, and helped to promote the image of Raleigh as an energetic and expressive metropolitan area, poised to compete with some of the country’s most interesting, youthful, and cosmopolitan centers.  

Fresh and effortless dresses dominated the runway.  Even though there was a no-fuss approach to all the drapery and cozy knits, I was happy to see a bit of playfulness as many of the designers experimented with different silhouettes, colors and patterns.  A seemingly simple day dress would often have a pop of color or an open back as a bit of a surprise.  In terms of style, the “Raleigh Girl” may be more intriguing than she at first appears.  


Pastels and Neutrals

The colors at fashionSPARK were more reflective of early spring, when the first tiny bit of color saturation begins to creep out from the melting grip of winter.  There were nudes and flesh tones that evoked the feeling of glimpsing a pale flash of skin when the weather is just barely warm enough for skirts and short sleeves.  A feminine and flirty blouse from Villette had a sole pink flower blooming on the shoulder from the canvass of snowy white.  Raleigh Denim used prints from a photograph of a frosty sunset, with watery purples and oranges leaching into light grays.  Pops of color – like the red belt cinching the white jumper in the Tyger Alexis show – added some fun.  The overall palette felt light and dewy, and I could imagine many of the dresses working on a variety of skin tones, and being easy to transition from a casual day look with flats and a denim jacket, to the perfect chic little dress for a late afternoon lawn party.










Cut-out Backs

A peek-a-boo cut-out is a sexy way of showing skin without risking looking too risqué in a plunging neckline of short skirt.  Women with voluptuous curves could feel cute without having to be too conservative in dresses from Raleigh Denim and Marie Cordella that covered cleavage and shoulders in favor of geometric cuts revealing an open back.  The amount of back exposed ranged from a small glance of the shoulder blades to diamond points stretching down far below the waistline.  Whether you are bony or busty, this is a fun trend to play around with.




Fun with Silhouettes

Perhaps there was once a time when skirts, dresses, and shorts only came in “long”, “medium”, and “You need to be doing pilates 3 days a week to wear those”.  At FashionSpark, we saw designers like Marie Cordella and Raleigh Denim use tiered hemlines with longer layers of fabric flowing out from the backs of dresses and skirts like a peacock’s tail, Gabrielle Duggan showcased smart shapes like a cowl neck knit column dress, and some of Elanor Hoffmans and Katelyn Sexton’s girls seem to be boycotting pants.  Some of these looks were more successful than others, but I appreciate the creative and innovative spirit in the designers.  I may not be the girl who can pull off a pair of see-through chiffon harem pants, but I’m happy to live in a world, and in a city, where other people at least have the gumption (and figures) to try. 


See every look from fashionSPARK 2011

Read More

Design Architecture, Other posts by Whitney Ayres Kenerly.


Raleigh DenimFashionMarie CordellaFashionSPARK


  • joe
    09/21 01:29 PM

    Why doesn’t the City consider creating a ‘fashion district’, perhaps in the Warehouse area.  It owns a bunch of empty buildings over there.  With stitch, Raleigh Denim, some high-end mens clothier i read about this week, the NC State school of Textiles & Design School, Meredith, and “William Peace’s” design programs, you could create a ‘garment district’ that hightlights the creativity of all of these groups

    You also create a ‘destination’ district for shopping that’s not some chain mall.  In the end, you are supporting not only Raleigh designers but American designers!!

  • gspot
    09/21 02:43 PM

    Why doesn’t Omaha consider creating an Oyster District?

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