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Fashion And Art In St. Louis

It used to be that a fashion show at a lady’s charity luncheon was a big draw. Now due to some of St. Louis' leading arts and cultural institutions such as Craft Alliance, The Contemporary Art Museum, The Sheldon Arts Foundation, and The World Chess Hall of Fame, fashion is at the fore. 

Craft Alliance has led the way with the creation of The Fashion Lab. It is a fusion of art and fashion. The program explores fashion as an art form and brings cutting-edge fashion design to the St.Louis community.

St .Louis, once second only to New York City's garment center, has again blossomed into a hot spot for fashion. Boasting many sophisticated, trendy and fashion forward boutiques: high end retailers like Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus; not only one but two 2010 Project Runway contestants and a Fashion Week, St Louis clearly is flush with both talent and interest in fashion.

With the presence of Washington University's Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts' first-rate Fashion Design Department there is continuing influx of young designers looking for ways to showcase their talents. Craft Alliance fills this gap with the Fashion Lab, which sets out to blur the line between art and fashion.

Recently CAM, The Contemporary Museum of Art had its famous fund raiser, the Dada Ball. The title this year was "Art of Fashion: A View from the Front Row and Beyond," emceed by Ken Downing, Senior Vice President and Fashion Director of Neiman Marcus. Based in Dallas, Downing is a figure at every major fashion show around the world and plays a key role in all major style elements at Neiman Marcus.

And Lift for Life Academy, a middle and high school which was St .Louis’ first charter school, recently had a fund raiser with fashion at its core. Laura Kathleen and Michael Drummond, two St. Louisans of television's Project Runway Series were featured. For the past three years, Laura Kathleen has worked with inner city girls to design their own prom dresses from donated fabrics. There was a thrilling fashion show which featured the girls modeling on the runway with their beautiful gowns.

We have at least two more fashion related benefits in the works for this Fall. Paul Reuter, the director of The Sheldon Arts Foundation, is putting together a fabulous program for the annual Fall Gallery Gala, Art Sounds. The theme is "Divas and Designers" and will feature vocal divas Erin Bode and Coco Soul, who will bring their vocal artistry to the stage of the Sheldon Concert Hall in a unique program combining great music and high fashion. A not-to -be-missed evening of dynamic music and a preview of the latest in gala fashion courtesy of a major high-end department store and Distinctions Boutique, patrons will also have the opportunity to see the fabulous exhibit of film and theatrical fashions from the collections of Mary Strauss and others that will be on view in the Galleries.

St. Louis' World Chess Hall of Fame will have a major fashion exhibition in October. The exhibition entitled "A Queen Within: Adorned Archetypes, fashion and Chess. "In the game of chess the queen is considered the most powerful and, many times, the most unpredictable piece. This exhibition will focus on the archetype of the queen. Designs from Alexander McQueen among other experimental designers will be used to highlight the queen archetype in fashion and identify relationships with the cultural collective unconscious and traditions of storytelling.

Fashion and Art and how they come together is nothing new, but there is an incredible energy between them, not only in St. Louis, but all over the world. There were lines around the Metropolitan Museum of Art a couple of years ago at midnight for an Alexander McQueen exhibition that was such a huge rage that they extended the hours.

As usual, the St Louis art scene is right on the mark and moving straight ahead.