The spirited crowd was full of excitement as Charleston, South Carolina boutique, Hampden Clothing, welcomed designers Lizzie Fortunato (along with her twin sister Kathryn) and Timo Weiland to the Carolinas on August 9.
Twins Elizabeth (Lizzie) and Kathryn Fortunato are the dynamic duo who own and operate Lizzie Fortunato Jewels. They’ve participated in the runway shows of SUNO and VPL, and appeared on the covers of mags like Women’s Wear Daily and W Korea. They’ve also appeared in the pages of iconic Vogue and ELLE magazines. This young team has paved their way into haute couture by marrying eclectic materials (like seashells from remote Costa Rican beaches) with edgy metals and contemporary silhouettes. You may find even find rich weathered leather handbags in their collections.
Timo Weiland is a Vanderbuilt University graduate, where he majored and dabbled in business savvy pursuits. Though he was formally trained in economics he tended toward the artistic side of things. He sketched and painted. Like so many of the greats, Timo learned to sew at an early age by the hand of his mother. Ultimately, he ventured to New York City to pursue a career in fashion. Weiland launched his namesake collection with Alan Eickstein; a FIT graduate with a penchant toward the commercial aspects of the fashion industry. Currently Weiland’s collection has strong midwestern roots (think Rag & Bone meets Peter Pillotto.)
Who brought these visionaries together? None other than Charleston’s visionary Stacy Smallwood. Five years ago, Smallwood launched a new kind of boutique in Charleston; one that the Carolinas had never really seen. Bringing brands like Rag & Bone, Alexander Wang, Yigal Azrouel, and 10 Crosby by Derek Lam to the Holy City, Hampden Clothing has carved a niche into King Street (Charleston’s shopping Mecca). With a background in the buying program of Neiman Marcus, Smallwood has cultivated a small, trendy staff of women who perpetuate this brand bringing designers like Ally Hilfiger, Marcus Wainwright, David Neville, (and our featured designers of this story,) to privately hosted events. By doing so, Smallwood has engaged and inspired a burgeoning community in the fashion scene, which has become such a passion project of hers.
Below: The designers arrive at the event!
On that muggy August night, as the champagne and Westbrook Brewery beer flowed, buyers parsed through pieces from each designer’s selection. Timo and Lizzie graciously opened their collection to the privately hosted event — shopping with the designers lent the event a certain Je ne sais quoi. With anticipation focused on the impending September fashion weeks, a neutrally hued crowd kept their palates open waiting for the SS13 secrets to be revealed by our guest tastemakers.
While they were ready to spill the beans, the designers remained besotted with a growing fashion scene here in the South. It’s a breath of fresh air to know that while we in the Carolinas may be removed from the quintessential fashion metropolises that we’re still relevant in setting trends.
Timo Weiland’s silhouette-based ready-to-wear styles have been staples at Smallwood’s designer boutique. Her regular clientele appreciates his whimsical use of color and construction, so having the designer to the Holy City was nothing short of a treat. Weiland raves, “Our trip to Charleston was a Southern-charm packed reunion in many ways. Lizzie, Kathryn and I are old friends who do not get to spend nearly enough time together and we all went to university in the South (Duke and Vanderbilt.) We all love Stacy and her vision for Hampden Clothing, so it was such a treat to be able to visit to experience it in person!”
Above: Timo Weiland‘s work
Fortunato and her metal-meets-rope statement pieces have added amply to Smallwood’s accessories collection. With her punky haircut and even perkier personality, Fortunato captivated Smallwood’s guests with her genuine willingness to reveal the value of her collection to enhancing their personal closets. Fortunato exclaims, “Being at Hampden Clothing was such a great opportunity to meet first-hand with customers (something I don’t often have time to do being in the wholesale business) and Stacy Smallwood couldn’t have done a better job planning our 24 hours there. She showed us amazing specialty shopping spots like Mac & Murphy and Indigo Clothing. I felt like I was in Nolita or Brooklyn! The city is cutting edge and I can’t wait to return.”
And the moment for which we’ve waited with bated breath: what do our guest designers expect to see march down September’s runways for Spring/Summer 2013? Weiland says his collection is “inspired by elegant hip hop and the artist Keith Haring.”As for Fortunato’s collection in Spring/Summer 2013, “ [It] is embracing brights and pastels including light pink opals and blue sodalite semi-precious cabochons. Big necklaces will still dominate but there is a refinement to them. I think this is a trend in general: a move away from the slouchy layers towards more tailored looks.”