Martha’s Vineyard Fashion Week: 5 days and nights of style

M.V. Fashion Week 2012, Sept. 17 through Sept. 22. Pictured is Maggie Lindland walking the catwalk last year. — Photo by Stephen Savard

Bust out your high heels and best duds. Martha’s Vineyard Fashion Week is back for its sophomore year and founder Trena Morrison promises, “The fashion this year has stepped up about 100 notches.”

The second annual Fashion Week, benefiting Angel Flights N.E., will feature daily events from Monday, Sept. 17, through Saturday, Sept. 22. Included in the lineup are three runway shows featuring seven local designers, lots of trunk shows including one spotlighting locally designed jewelry and accessories, and — a new addition to the Fashion Week lineup — screenings of two fashion-related flicks at the new Martha’s Vineyard Film Center at the Tisbury Marketplace in Vineyard Haven.

Also new this year, the organizers have imported 12 professional models from Boston’s Dynasty Models for the main event fashion show at Dreamland on Saturday night. Cassie Stevens, a celebrated Ford model/DJ from New York City, will also be on hand to spin tunes at the Monday and Saturday fashion shows.

Fashion reigns starting this coming Monday with a kick-off runway show at Dreamland, in Oak Bluffs, featuring new styles from Chrysal Parrot and the latest looks offered by half a dozen local boutiques.

Ms. Parrot’s fashions were a hit at last year’s main event. Her looks range from sweet and breezy to structured sophistication with a common denominator of drama. Drawn from period looks covering everything from the Victorian to the Mad Man era, Ms. Parrot’s styles are figure-flattering and feminine, for women of all sizes. For years the designer has dressed many of the iconic women of the Vineyard known for their individual style.

“This year’s looks are more contemporary and fun without losing the Victorian details,” Ms. Parrot said of her latest line. Her runway show will feature pieces primarily in silk with an emphasis on dress-up, from party dresses to gala event formal wear. She promises “lots of tulle.”

The featured stores will include Bibi’s Baby & Kids, Saffron and Hannah B, PIKNIK Art & Apparel, Yes, We Have No Bananas, and Laughing Bear. This selection should give every woman in the audience something to covet.

Wednesday’s event at the Sand Bar & Grille on Oak Bluffs Harbor will spotlight casual and fun, as well as glam. Bikini clad models will show off the latest designs by Ashley Chase of Sea.Love.Swimwear. Karen Rusillo will be back on board showing off her latest line of cutting edge designs – party wear and hats.

The Saturday finale titled “It’s a Marvelous Night for a Moondance” will include fashions by Ms. Russillo, as well as a trio of young designers and the mother/daughter design team of Marlene DiStefano and Randi Sylvia, who launched their first collection last year during during the Fashion Week closing night gala. With a year of designing under their belts, the two have stepped up their look.

Three other local neophyte designers will show off their latest creations.

Novae Knight

Island born and raised Novae Knight debuted her first line two years ago in a solo fashion show in West Tisbury and then made a grand entrance into the local fashion scene with casual pieces in fun fabrics at last year’s Fashion Week. This time around the young designer is focusing on red carpet looks.

Ms. Knight gathers her fabrics from her job at the M.V. Community Services Thrift Shop in Vineyard Haven. Two of her runway designs are made from recycled Amish lace tablecloths. One is a stunning floor-length backless gown with a train and lots of draping in the back. The other is a mini tunic dress with extreme butterfly sleeves extending belong the hemline. Both make good use of the lace center silhouettes in the fabric.

When she first co-opted the tablecloths, Ms. Knight says, “I didn’t realize that they had these perfect women’s body shapes in the lace.” The patterns add a sexy, figure-emphasizing look to these romantic pieces. Another maxi dress in a vivid fall-colored floral fabric with a fitted bandeaux top and very full skirt epitomizes Boho chic with couture flair.

At last year’s Fashion Week, Ms. Knight sold a few of her one-of-a-kind pieces from the line she refers to as “trustafarian resort wear.”

“I’m always prepared to sell what I make, but I don’t do custom orders,” she says, “Designig to me is like art. You wouldn’t go into a gallery and say ‘I like that but can you change it.’ I want to keep designing as my love and not muddy it with money.” She adds, “It’s hard to say we have a market for red carpet dresses on the Island but it’s not going to stop me from making them.”

Chelsea Phaneuf and Rose Goff-Maidoff

Two recent Charter School graduates launched their own fashion line called Magic Dress. They debuted their collaborative efforts at last year’s main event and have since made great strides in the sophistication of their work.

Their 2011 line featured unique goth-inspired looks. This time around, the two have continued to exploit their love affair with period fashion but, according to Ms. Phaneuf, this year’s line is “more cohesive.”

Looks include suits inspired by Victorian riding jackets and other structured pieces in quality silks, wools, and velvets. Ms. Phaneuf notes that she and her design partner are influenced by retro looks and says that she loves fashion from the 1940s and 50s.

Ms. Goff-Maidoff is currently studying history at Mount Holyoke College with a view towards, possibly, a museum career. Ms. Phaneuf recenlty completed an intensive design course in New York City with a famed milliner. Their runway collection will include her pillbox hats.

A number of new sponsors have gotten on board for Fashion Week this year, including corporate sponsors Blistex, OPI nails, Goody hair products, and Vita Coco coconut water. These manufacturers and some local businesses will contribute products to swag bags to be given to patrons purchasing premium tickets for the fashion shows.

A portion of the Fashion Week proceeds will go to Angel Flights N.E., a nonprofit that arranges free flights to those requiring access to medical care.

Martha’s Vineyard Fashion Week, Sept. 17–Sept. 22, various locations.;