Featherstone’s Fashion Show and Tea Party

Gail Farrish and her hat sat proudly at Featherstone's Fashion Show and Tea Party on Saturday, May 7. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

It seemed like it was ladies’ day at Featherstone Saturday, May 7, as more than 200 guests, almost all women, enjoyed the Garden Tea Party and Fashion Show that kicked off the annual Art of Flowers show.

Filling a large pleated tent and spilling out onto the lawn on a beautiful spring afternoon, a crowd of seasonally clad women mingled and nibbled tea sandwiches and sweet morsels by Cakes by Liz in anticipation of the feature event.

Many guests wore hats, which tended to be as varied as the charmingly mismatched china teacups on the tables. In honor of the season, as well as the Kentucky Derby, a best hat contest inspired some very imaginative designs. A teapot hat and a birdhouse hat — two of the winners — were among the fancy headwear displayed in a pre-show catwalk parade.

The event was launched last year to provide a preview of the first of Featherstone’s season of guest-curated summer shows. Holly Alaimo, former owner of the Dragonfly Gallery has been hosting a spring flower art show for 15 years and she transferred the show to Featherstone when she sold her Arts District gallery two years ago.

Last year the Tea and Fashion Show drew an oversold crowd of 150, so this year Featherstone events coordinator, Patsy McCornack, and Fashion Show coordinators Nancy Neil and Barbara St. Germaine, decided to rent a bigger tent. The show sold out once again, with approximately 230 guests paying $25 for the refreshments, entertainment, and a chance to get a sneak peek of the popular Art of Flowers show.

Michael Hunter of PIKNIK Art & Apparel, the fashion show consultant, started off the show with a fun bit of fashion drama. After running out onto the catwalk looking a little distraught and overburdened by a number of large bags, he proceeded to dress his models, who arrived in bathrobes, onstage. Building his signature look layer by layer, Mr. Hunter demonstrated a flair for putting together improbable combinations of patterns and textures to create a very chic and comfortable personalized look.

After, a parade of looks by local designers graced the catwalk. The variety of styles and the inspired musical selections by DJ Philippe Borde kept a very animated crowd’s attention throughout the hour-long presentation.

There were striking looks from stores Laughing Bear, Outrageous, and Soul Sister (represented at Featherstone Flea Market), elegant evening wear by Lorraine Parrish and Timeless Treasures, and fun kids’ clothes from Tyler and Tallulah and Kiddos, but the looks were predominately upscale casual.

The sister stores Bananas, Once in a Blue Moon, and the soon to reopen Red Mannequin (on Saturday) provided some of the best examples of that uniquely Vineyard chic-yet-comfortable style in keeping with this year’s theme A Day in the Life of the Vineyard. Fashions by Stina Sayre raised the look to the next level of sophistication, and Beldan Radcliffe’s unique line of sweaters demonstrated a combination of style and function.

Some of the afternoon’s most interesting looks came from Minor Knight, who also emceed the event. Her designs featured striking fabrics, a nod to earlier eras, and an eye for texture and flow. The event gave a chance for some of the Island’s designers, such as Ms. Knight and Chrysal Parrot, who sell from their studios, to display their lines to a wider audience.

Also included in the show were styles from hanna b. Midnight Farm, Citrine, The Green Room, Bramhall & Dunn, Alley Cat, Saffron, Chrysal Parrot, and Laughing Bear. Hair and makeup was done by Bouclé Salon and Spa.

The variety extended to the models, who represented a wide age range. A few mother/daughter duos walked the catwalk, including Kerry Quinlan Potter and daughter Chesca, who brought in a third generation when Joan Potter accompanied her granddaughter at one point. A number of the models were familiar to the guests and many of them clearly had a lot of fun working the catwalk to full effect to the delight of the audience.

The hardest working woman in fashion that day was Marilyn Wortman who modeled a total of six outfits and also began the festivities by showing off the highly coveted Community Services Thrift Shop chicken handbag. Ms. Wortman’s husband, Denys, was among a handful of male models who strutted the catwalk in menswear looks by Sundog and also donned black tie to accompany the female models in the closing evening wear display. Artist Traeger di Pietro showed off what was among the last looks of the day — a wild and colorful ensemble from PIKNIK that suited the artist’s striking look well.

Raffle tickets were on sale for one of Peggy Zablotny’s striking botanical collage photos. The raffle continues through the end of the Art of Flowers show, May 25. Many of the Fashion Show guests strolled over to the Virginia Weston Besse Gallery after the event to enjoy a preview of the show, featuring 42 Island artists.

The gallery is abloom with a range of floral-themed works ranging from paintings in a number of media, photography, sculpture, and fabric creations. Established artists such as Mr. di Pietro and Leslie Baker are represented along with first time exhibitors and Featherstone teachers and students — providing for a broad range of styles and prices.