As Tampa continues on its journey to increase the fashion scene in the Bay area, on May 1st it got one step closer. Garment District 813 was to me a feeling of familiarity. Historic downtown Tampa turned into the 1970s meatpacking and garment district of New York City. Minus the ‘meat’, local Bay area fashion designers Ben Chmura and Raven Reda set the stage with their latest collections. Their inspiration for the show was the late 1970s meatpacking and garment district. So what better place to have it then Tampa’s well-known district of memories, the Tampa Armature Building (trolley barn). Between the brick foundation and the restored trolley at the head of the runway, you couldn’t help but to look around. This is when arriving early to a fashion event was a must. The two elements, the building and the clothing, were both equally beautiful yet so different. The wide open entrance (picture an entrance the size of two trolleys plus) lead your eyes straight down the runway. The exposed brick, original iron support and some broken windows reminded me of the Gansevoort Market in NYC.
Fashion Week Tampa Bay’s very own Ben Chmura showcased his first collection since being on Project Runway Season 7 and recent showing at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in February 2010. Although his collection was inspired by the old Greek Myth about Lamia and Zeus, accents of his collection also paid tribute to 1970s NYC . Textured, cropped pants with a coral diamond-cut jacket were paired with metallic, copper shoes. Copper shoes, can we say disco inferno!
Along with Ben Chmura’s futuristic resort collection, Raven Reda revealed her latest collection Coup D’etat. Huh? That means what? Well, in an interview with Raven I got the scoop. She stated that, “Coup D’etat, which basically symbolizes a takeover of the fashion industry here.” Her rocker-heroine chic clothing consisted of dye-jobbing, netting tops and jeggings (jean leggings) that accent anyone’s be-hind!
Until recently, New York City’s meat packing district was known for its industrial purpose. Now, high-fashion stores and art galleries fill the streets between Gansevoort and West 14th Street. Designers like Ben Chmura and Raven Reda are always actively involved in growing the fashion scene in Tampa Bay and bringing that high-fashion that is desired. However, this was Ben Chmura’s farewell show for he is leaving for New York to further his brand in the original garment district. Good luck Ben!
All you shop-a-holics can still purchase both Chmura and Reda’s clothing at LACE Boutique, located @ 100 Main St., Suite 106, Safety Harbor, FL. For more information about Ben Chmura visit him at www.facebook.com/benchmura Coming soon: www.ben-chmura.com! For more information about Raven Reda visit her at www.dementa.etsy.com!