Monday, August 22, 2011

In Review: Dress Rehearsal

Fashion designer Emma Berg and jewelry designer Stephanie Lake elegantly showcased their newest work at an intimate cocktail party to raise funds for the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities, with a special focus on music and art programming. The l'etoile co-sponsored benefit was held in the gilded ballroom of a private estate in Deephaven, MN. Guests were treated to an array of canapés and desserts from Chow Girls and Perfect Day Cakes, as well as musical performances from Boys & Girls Club members and videos about the organization before the fashion presentation began.

Berg created a rainbow of cocktail dresses and gowns specifically for the event. The capsule collection opened with cocktail dresses in white, navy and dandelion yellow. They were fairly conservative designs compared to the majority of the collection, but each had understated details and design elements that separated it from the average cocktail dress.

An asymmetrical cornflower blue wrap dress could also be worn as a light-weight coat. On its own, the translucent fabric and potentially plunging neckline (depending on how loosely the dress was worn), could be fairly risqué, despite the layers and gathers of fabric. But worn as an additional layer over another gown or dress, it would function as a fashion-forward look for the more conservative dresser.

A voluminous cream sleeveless cape trailed a simple white dress and red lace waistband. Elements of the design were almost cocoon-like, and the cape hung down the model's back like dripping wings. It had an incredibly graceful effect. Though the red lace was stunning, it would be interesting to see this look belted with something that maintained its ethereal quality.

An delicate one-shouldered dress in complimentary shades of green felt suited for Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream. The dress was expertly sewn (in chiffon, no less), but even so, there were a few slight puckers of fabric. With a design such as this, anything that breaks the flow creates a distraction.

The penultimate design, a dramatic magenta gown, recalled the gentle turns and folds of flower petals. The skirt and bodice were immaculately sculpted, and the color itself was incredibly rich. The exaggerated flowing sleeves were interesting and well-constructed, but the drama of the look limits the piece to the fashion brave. It would be too Dynasty for most women, but with only slight editing, it could become a far more wearable gown.

The finale dress was a bouquet of colors. Flowers, hand-painted by local designer Max Lohrbach, blossomed on yards of silk that gathered and ruffled around the model. The result was stunning. One of Berg's signature design elements is a vertical gathering that cascades, uninterrupted, down the front of her gowns. However, this particular gown's shape would have been more dynamic if the horizontal line of the black waist band was unbroken.

Jewelry, headpieces and bags by Stephanie Lake complimented the collection. Lake, who also co-hosted the event, has found success by creating statement pieces that are almost alarming in their boldness. She and Berg made a very smart pairing. Several lucky party-goers wore Lake's jewelry for the event, and a pop-up shop gave attendants the opportunity to examine her pieces up close.

Styling by l'etoile's own Jahna Peloquin and hair and makeup by Charlie Brackney and the talented crew of Haus Salon hit just the right note of avant garde. The models from Vision Model Management were impeccable as always, even after changing into little black dresses to assault the hors dourves table. The event was understated and elegant, and raised enough funds to purchase a number of musical instruments for the Boys & Girls Club's American Guitar & Band Academy, including a new piano, drum kit, and more.

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