Forging Fashion and Community in St. Louis: Fernandez Uses Opportunity to Open Doors 

On Sunday, March 19th, the first-ever “A Taste of Fashion” fashion show debuted in St. Louis, Missouri. Set in the Kranzberg Arts Foundation’s Urban Ballroom, the guests are exposed to the historic St. Louis community. The panoramic view reveals the historic cathedral and the surrounding St. Louis Art District. Inside, modern architecture, with hints of brutalist design. An open floor plan allows guests both room and freedom to mingle—a perfect combination of minimalism. The entire show was tastefully curated by Desirae Fernandez (@creativelydes_). Fernandez is a seasoned professional in fashion, she recognized a need to create more of a community in the fashion industry in St. Louis. As a result, she embarked on a mission to bring in a range of designers from editorial to runway for this fantastic show.

Show curator Desirae Fernandez

In an interview with the creative director, Fernandez commented, “They [creatives] really just touched my heart in a sense, and I really wanted to do more for the community as a director. Once I stepped into these shoes, my job and purpose was to open up doors for people that may not be able to open it themselves. I’ve been building myself, my network, my connections, my clients, to allow myself to provide these opportunities.” Fernandez was jubilant about the show, and especially the opportunities that she provided. She brought in Bridget Murphy, owner/designer of BBQ Closet Selection, Girlfriend’s Closet, and Maxine Roeder, a fashion design student at WashU.

They all worked tirelessly to bring their best. Murphy, the owner of BBQue (Bold Beautiful Queens Closet Collection), exemplified minimalism through simple silhouettes. The clean lines and fitted garments showcased confidence in design and construction. However, her styles really shined through her beautiful selection of bright colors. Murphy, a mother of three, expecting one more, radiated positivity. She talked about how creating clothing helped her after her pregnancy, “I went through postpartum depression, and sewing became like therapy for me. It helped me build my confidence, I started to make clothes for myself, and I started to love how it made me look. If you look good, you feel good.”

Girlfriend’s Closet represented a more timely representation of minimalism: skin-tight clothing, classic silhouettes, and a firm adherence to the mighty black. It was sexy, sensual and would make anyone feel stylish. Girlfriend’s Closet featured a plus-size model—the clothes were made by the community to empower the community. It was a breathtaking moment to recognize the many bodies we come in, while additionally providing clothing that did not seem like an afterthought.

Maxine Roeder worked with shades of nude and black; using a variety of styles and textures, the attention to detail shined in each and every piece. From a ballroom-like dress to a more hugging corset dress, the colors and creativity made each look remarkably unique. In an interview, Roeder wanted to work sustainably; she named her collection “Perishable Beauty.” She stated, “I really care about sustainability, but a lot of these fabrics, most of them aren’t sustainable. So, I was trying to think of a way that is more sustainable, figuring out how to use the waste product.” Roeder’s solution is a fresh take from the overdone plastic bag or waste fashion lines, creating textiles and appliqués with the scraps over and over again as they got smaller. We are excited to see more from this new designer.

In the end, while some may think fashion shows are frivolous, these women have undeniably proven that fashion is more than simply clothing. Fashion is a social movement, it is empowering, and most importantly, it is a community. As Fernandez stated, “For [minorities], the doors don’t open as easily for us. So, I want to allow them to come into my space, use my resources, and take on the opportunities that I’m able to provide them.” We wholeheartedly agree with Fernandez, this is a fantastic community that we hope to grow. Armour is excited about what comes next from Fernandez and the many talents that she is able to empower.

Words David Win
Photographs Maxine Roeder

Armour Magazine Season 30 — F/S 2023

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