Seventeen boutiques and stores, seven clothing designers, half a dozen jewelers, more than 70 models, and 13 separate events — Martha’s Vineyard Fashion Week, in its third year, has expanded and evolved into a jam-packed week-long festival. Last week, local fashionistas were treated to several fashion shows, films, trunk shows, a wedding trade show, and even an art happening, as Trena Morrison and team pulled out all the stops to show off the many faces of Vineyard style.
The runway shows kicked off on Wednesday, outdoors at the Sand Bar where models strutted the planks of the bar/restaurant’s walkway wearing fashions from a few local stores and some very playful, unique looks from designer Karen Trotier (formerly Karen Rusillo) of Edgartown’s Menagerie boutique. The show finished up with models braving the chill September evening in swimsuits from SeaLove Swimwear by Ashley Chase and Indah Huberman.
On Thursday night, Lure at the Winnetu hosted a dinner and fashion show that featured looks from some of the more upscale shops on the Island: Midnight Farm, the Great Put On, Hannah B, and Timeless — all of whom were new to the Fashion Week lineup this year. Also featured on Thursday were the unique silk and felting designs of Heather Hall.
Friday night the party moved to Flatbread Company, where VIP patrons enjoyed stage front seating and free pizza while the models took to the stage, executing classic fashion poses in four-point turns. The preppy look dominated with the featured stores: NRO, Jack Wills, Vineyard Vines, and Holbrook Sweden from Island Outfitters. There were lots of nautical stripes, whites, navy blues, and pastels, plus boat shoes and sweaters and windbreakers over shorts and mini dresses.
Amy Love Heflin of Vineyard Haven was selected as the first Fashion Week makeover subject. During Friday night’s event, her new look was unveiled. Outfitted by Basics and coiffed, manicured, and made up by Sea Spa Salon, Ms. Heflin underwent a total transformation and was clearly pleased with her new look. Her advice to the audience was to embrace change and not be afraid of trying something new.
Then, Ms. Trotier hit the stage once again, providing designs that were a total departure from the featured shops’ sporty, collegiate looks. While the Sand Bar event showcased her everyday styles, on Friday Ms. Trotier displayed her more extravagant looks. The designer, who was participating in Fashion Week for the third time, has a flair for drama, and she didn’t disappoint this year. She showed lots of long, thin silhouettes in stark white, sparkly stripes and her favorite — clustered textured rose fabric in midnight blue.
The Menagerie models were almost all tall and willowy and sported highly dramatic hair and makeup. Ms. Trotier, who was once a semi-finalist for Project Runway, could be called the Alexander McQueen of the Vineyard for her courage in presenting innovative, sometimes outrageous looks that, while not for everyone, add a nice theatrical element to Fashion Week.
Saturday’s main event took place at the Union Chapel in Oak Bluffs, where a good-sized crowd enjoyed sideline seating flanking a temporary red carpet runway. The show started off with DJ Pretty Ninja playing some solemn choir music as host Richard Skidmore encouraged guests to admire the sky high ceiling and impressive architecture of the chapel. This opening set the stage for the first participant, Michael Hunter of PIKNIK Art & Apparel, who staged a mock wedding ceremony complete with couture garbed officiant, bride, and groom. Following this bit of drama, Mr. Hunter showed off some of the fall looks that define his flair for unexpected mixes and urban sensibility.
The remaining stores displayed the uniquely Vineyard look — comfortable yet stylish. Once in a Blue Moon’s outfits featured lots of flattering flow and luscious fabrics. The Green Room showed contemporary, flirty casual styles for women and hip, laid back looks for men. Bananas showed off their signature winning combination of drape, texture, and layering in a number of timeless pieces. Laughing Bear’s looks were more dressy, fun and feminine.
Saturday’s featured designers were the mother/daughter team of Randi Sylvia and Marlene DiStefano. The looks from their line Kenworthy were very imaginative, yet totally wearable. The pieces from the fall collection featured interesting juxtapositions — sheer floral fabrics with super soft leather, black sheers and lace with bold plaids, or electric blues and surprisingly placed leather panels and accents. There were very high-waisted skirts and trousers, asymmetrical dresses, and other interesting looks — many of them with a European flair. The models all wore head-hugging, sculptured fascinators and handed out long stem roses — a nod to Ms. DiStefano’s floral business. Al Shackman provided live music for the Kenworthy finale to the evening.
On Sunday, two events closed out the third annual Martha’s Vineyard Fashion Week. The Harbor View Hotel hosted a Bridal Soiree featuring ten wedding vendors and models in bridal fashions. In the evening Traeger Di Pietro presented a fashion-inspired art show with paintings and live models.
Fashion week founder and organizer Trena Morrison said on Sunday that this year’s event was the most successful so far. She noted that the first year featured five events, and this year the number has almost tripled. Last year Fashion Week raised over $7,500 for the organization Angel Flights, which provides free flights for Islanders in need of medical care. This year, Ms. Morrison predicts that they will exceed last year’s figure. “They’re a wonderful organization that the Island definitely needs and uses,” she said, “I just want to create awareness and continue to support them. You never know when you’ll need an angel.”