Nashville is not widely known for its fashion scene although that's changing with the help of designers like Elizabeth Pape who presented a preview show hosted by stylist Elise Joseph (aka Pennyweight) Thursday night at the Tinney Contemporary gallery downtown.
I've never been to a fashion show, but the idea of two well-crafted, local brands combining forces to put on an intimate event like this at one of my favorite galleries was intriguing to me, so I bought a ticket out of curiosity.
We arrived at the gallery in the middle of the cocktail hour about 30 minutes before the show started. The cozy space was already filling up with people and it was a welcome respite from the chilly autumn night. The lights were dim except for the spotlights pointed at each of the paintings that lined the walls. Seven white cubes sat in front of the paintings, a few feet of space between each one. My friend and I spent a minute deciding whether or not the coat rack by the door that was filled with gorgeous outerwear was a DIY coat check or part of the show. We eventually added our coats to the collection and walked around the room analyzing the art as well as the crowd. We agreed that the best painting was (unfortunately) hidden behind the clothing rack but the best looking attendee is still up for debate because each guest was so stunning.
Details like the club music, the clipboard lady at the door and the interesting conversation all around us worked together to help set the mood. I waited in line for a drink behind several impossibly fashionable women and when it was finally my turn, I was delighted to find that the first drink listed on the menu was called “Spirit Quest”. Yes, please.
As I sipped my tart, blush colored drink, the lights got even lower and the guests were shooed away from the white blocks. Elizabeth and Elise stood in the corner and quietly shouted for everyone’s attention. After a minute, everyone noticed was was happening and looked toward them. Both youthful and beautiful, they thanked us for coming. We were appreciated they said. And then they joined us in the crowd.
The models came out one by one, each stopping for a brief moment before ascending their cubes. The models were gorgeous, tall and impeccably styled. Their hair and makeup complemented the minimal clothing perfectly. If you were wondering how to pull off wide, velvet pants or a wool crop top, these models showed you how. I tried to imagine myself in clothing with such generous cuts of fabric and I can only assume I would look like a frumpy cow. If you are tall and thin, every piece will hang beautifully, but us normals will need to employ a little creativity to make some of these pieces work for us. Even though a few pieces might be hard for the regular gal to pull off, most of the collection is very versatile and universally flattering. The neutral colors and high quality materials make these pieces utilitarian wardrobe essentials and I appreciate the expert blending of form and function.
After a few brief moments, all of the models were perched on their dimly lit stands and that was that. The selfies resumed and people went back for more ‘Spirit Quests’. Some people continued to shop and some particularly brave people touched the clothes hanging on the models who smiled and welcomed the interaction. I, on the other hand, was out of things to do. I’d touched the fabric, I’d looked at the art, and I’d had a fancy drink.
I had assumed that there would be more of a presentation, that someone would tell me a story about each piece the model was wearing. I craved more details- What was the creative process? What were the influences? Who were these pieces designed for? I had anticipated an intimate evening from which I would leave knowing much more about the brand and feeling connected to it in some way, but I left knowing no more than I did when I arrived. The evening was beautiful and well-curated like both Elizabeth and Elise’s online brands, however, the translation into real space felt incomplete. Much like the clothing, the night felt overall, very minimal.