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VOL. 132 | NO. 63 | Wednesday, March 29, 2017

National Designer Nicole Miller Amps Up Memphis Fashion Week in April

BY K. DENISE JENNINGS, Special to The Daily News

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Memphis Fashion Week has evolved from its beginning into a showcase for all the elements of the developing fashion industry in Memphis.

Designs inspired by Nicole Miller will be on the runway at Crosstown Concourse April 7 as part of Memphis Fashion Week.


It all started when Abby Phillips, a talent agency executive from Memphis, was heading to Nashville in 2012 to help staff that city’s fashion week. She decided that Memphis should have a fashion week of its own, and within three months of that inspiration, Phillips put on the first event.

“I wanted to give the Memphis fashion community an opportunity to flex their creative muscles at home,” said Phillips, founder of Memphis Fashion Week and director of Memphis Fashion Design Network. “We had three goals: feature emerging designers, give the industry professionals a place to showcase their talent and showcase unique and up-and-coming venues.”

Since its inception, Memphis Fashion Week has not only grown in participation from the industry and the public, but has spun off several programs that help continue to feed and grow the fashion industry in Memphis.

The Emerging Memphis Designer Project (EMDP) helps develop local designers and some of the runway designers are participants in the program.

The goal of EMDP is to bring and keep the region’s top fashion designers and artists in Memphis and create an industry and infrastructure that can contribute to the city’s economic growth. EMDP is focused primarily on education, workforce development and building fashion design infrastructure.

“Fashion designers and industry professionals are staying in Memphis now instead of moving to New York and Los Angeles because they can,” Phillips said. “With technology and social media, designers don’t need to be known as a New York brand anymore.”

Within two years of the first Memphis Fashion Week, Memphis College of Art has taken note and added several fashion design classes to its curriculum.

“Memphis College of Art developed a positive relationship with Memphis Fashion Week in 2014, when the Memphis Fashion Fund supported the creation of our fashion design classes in MCA’s Community Education Program,” said Katherine Lawson, MCA’s associate vice president for development and community engagement. “The classes have been very popular and well-received by local designers.”

The newest resource for the fashion industry in Memphis, which opened last August, is the Lab by MFDN, an incubator for fashion design entrepreneurs that includes everything from mentoring, software, industrial-grade sewing equipment and event space to host meetings, photo shoots and trunk shows. The Lab, located on Flicker Street in Midtown, offers several levels of membership and both temporary and permanent space for designers.


This year’s Memphis Fashion Week will be held April 3-8 in several venues around the city and will feature headlining designer Nicole Miller, sponsored by Archer Malmo. Several local designers and some featured national designers also will participate. In addition to the runway show, Miller will be on hand throughout the week at both the Lab and at a trunk show hosted at Kitty Kyle to interact with shoppers and designers.

“Memphis Fashion Design Network is honored to have (Nicole Miller) here to inspire and encourage our local designers,” Phillips said. “Seeing her designs on the runway will be a great experience for everyone.”

Highlighting a unique Memphis venue is another goal of Memphis Fashion Week and this year participants will get to be first in line to experience the new Crosstown Concourse. That’s where the April 7 designer fashion show will be held before Crosstown Concourse officially opens to the public.

“Having the event at Crosstown is so cohesive with what we’re trying to do,” said Phillips. “It’s a space to not only enjoy, but a place to create and eat and be part of the community.”

The much anticipated concourse is a symbol of the intersection between Memphis’ history and future. A mixed-use urban village touted as a hub of collaboration, the venue is well suited to host an event that thrives on collaboration and an up-and-coming Memphis industry.

“Memphis Fashion Week has been great to work with as we begin to open concourse as a venue for community events,” said Todd Richardson, co-director of Crosstown Arts and co-leader of the concourse project. “It’s a special event that showcases talented Memphis designers on a new and unique stage.”

The Memphis College of Art will host the Emerging Memphis Design Project designers runway show on Saturday, April 8.

For both runway shows there will be a media section for print magazine writers, fashion bloggers and others, making it feel like a real New York runway show, “except Memphis-style and a little rowdy,” Phillips said.

Visit www.memphisfashionweek.org/tickets for more information about Memphis Fashion Week and tickets for events.

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