Gainesville Fashion Week 2011 Just Put This City on the Fashion Map

Gainesville Fashion Week 2011 kicked off last night at Villa East downtown. The venue was a nice atmospheric change from previous years, usually held in local nightclubs.

Hundreds of Gainesville’s local community and out of town visitors were in attendance on Thursday evening.

The first night of GFW featured several local designers and vintage collections as well. The evening as a whole was quite impressive, and everyone there could tell that Gainesville was taking a huge step from sleepy college town to a respected fashion destination.

To kick off the night GFW Producer, Albey Coronel, debuted his chola-esque collection, 1oz. There was no lack of oversized hoops, cheek revealing skirts, bandanas, men named Tito or gum smacking in this over the top, unique display. As each model shook her ass down the runway, the audience gasped in horror, laughed uncomfortably, and found themselves surprised with just how much they liked the collection. It was fresh and well made. Coronel did East L.A. proud without a doubt.

Kat and I had the opportunity to meet with two sisters earlier this week who debuted their vintage collection on Thursday evening. Sisters, Valesca St. Cyr and Rejina Tyson started their company Viscosity Vintage last summer, and this was their first chance to show off the vintage pieces they have been collecting for years on a runway. You can read Kat’s Alligator profile on them here. The whole collection had a bright eighties feel to it, with plenty of pattern and color smacking you in the face. They’ve done a good job of taking that otherwise horrifying track suit jacket and showing you exactly how to wear it, and that’s rare talent. You can check them out at

The evening featured a collection from local boutique Mesh, and devoted a special part of the show to three emerging designers with smaller collections, Francine Elizabeth, Nikera Clothing, and Jafari Jahaghi.

One of my favorite collections on Thursday was Sui Generis, a local project specializing in environmentally conscious clothing, using local thrift finds to reinvent relevance in fashion as well. Every piece was unique and styled perfectly.

To close out the night, swimsuit designer Zella Machado presented the largest collection of the night. It was a broad range of simple to structure, and a suit for almost every woman walked down that runway. I appreciate this designer’s choice of models. Swimsuit shopping, as we all know, is a delicate task for most women, and many body shapes and sizes were represented. It was a nice stray from the usual commitment to emaciated swizzle sticks that don’t represent women as a whole. Sexy isn’t one thing, and this designer knows that.

I’ll be covering the second half of GFW on Saturday at Villa East. Check back to see how it goes down or show up to witness the excitement yourself.

Photos by Jordan Streetzel

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