Text by Jahna Peloquin, l'étoile Fashion Editor
Photos by Nic Abrego
Steampunk-inspired fashion may be all the rage in mainstream fashion as of late, but it's been the name of the game for local neo-Victorian designers Samantha Rei (of Blasphemina's Closet) and Heather Luca (of Scoundrelle's Keep) for upwards of a decade. After presenting a preview of her Spring/Summer 2012 collection at last Friday's MNfashion Week runway show "Full Fashion Panic!" (which we review here), Rei hosted a trunk show introducing her brand-spankin'-new Minneapolis studio space as well as the opportunity to see her work, past and present, on display. Also in the mix was Bionic Unicorn jewelry by Kristin Berwald, a frequent collaborator of Rei, who offered a special name-your-price deal in honor of MNfashion Week. View more photos from the open house and trunk show by Nic Abrego here.
Then on Friday's runway show "Athenaeum: A Study in Fashion," Luca premiered her Fall 2011 line "Alkali" at the appropriately Victorian-era James J. Hill Reference Library in St. Paul. Accordingly, Luca showed a collection that held true to the Victorian aesthetic (corsetry, ruffles, bloomers, puff sleeves and high necklines) while adding a modern twist. I absolutely adored her leather satchel that connected to a corset - a hands-free innovation that dates back to Victorian times. Also smart were her pairings of traditional menswear items, like vests, with girlish ruffled skirts and bloomers, as well as her gender-bending incorporation of corsetry on her male looks. Luca demonstrated excellent craftsmanship and use of rich fabrics combined with a genre-pushing sense of style rare in the neo-Victorian fashion community.
The joint runway show kicked off with looks by emerging designer Tara Reich. Like Luca, Reich worked from a neo-Victorian aesthetic while incorporating modern, on-trend touches such as sheer fabrics, fishtail-hem skirts and - gasp! - short hem lengths in eye-popping colors one wouldn't ordinarily associate with Victorian times. Though some of the taffetas and shiny satins looked a bit cheap and dated (it's really hard to pull off a fabric so heavily associated with '80s bridesmaid gowns), Reich showed herself to be one to watch in the local neo-Victorian front.
View more photos from "Athenaeum: A Study in Fashion" by Nic Abrego here. Styling credits: Hair and makeup by MC Nelson Artistry, hats by the Blonde Swan. View more photos of the line by Photosynthetique here.