This past Saturday, Feb. 18, the Van Landingham transformed from historical home to haven for guests who came out to enjoy a Night in the Garden Room. The intimate estate harbored a Midsummer Night’s Dream-esque ambiance, but instead of magic, wonder and mischief, the benefit was filled with fashion, beauty and fundraising.
Guests mingled amongst beautiful architecture, enjoying heavenly hors d'oeuvres, a full bar, sounds of smooth jazz and silent auction offering art, dance classes wine tasting parties and more. The perfect crisp and cool weather beckoned some to the wrap around porches and rocking chairs to enjoy a conversation overlooking the gardens.
A benefit for the Lymphoma and Leukemia Society, the event fostered not only joy and laughter but also some very touching moments. Host Dr. Susan Flowers gave a brief speech about blood cancer, the deadliest disease among children in the U.S. before handing over the microphone to a young woman whose life was devastated by the disease. Allison Gresham Estabrook, Stella & Dot Independent Stylist who supplied the jewelry for the evening, tearfully spoke about her journey as a 30-year-old single mother with breast cancer whose best friend and soul mate Richard was diagnosed with cancer around the same time. They both fought the battle together, and today Allison still fights to share Richard’s story, as he is no longer here to do so.
Once tears were wiped, the benefit had some more lighthearted fun : Two rising designers shared their collections in the airy garden room of the estate.
Miikelle Fowler, a Michigan native, moved to Charlotte in 2005 and says she doesn’t plan on leaving. Designing clothes since December 2007, she’s made leaps and bounds as a architectural engineer turned fashion designer. Her very wearable line, MiikelleDeFo was featured at both Charlotte fashion weeks this past year.
Fowler, who just returned from New York Fashion Week showing her Fall 2012 collection, spoke about the experience. “My plan was to go to NYFW to watch and then I was invited to participate. It was awesome … It was a room full of models and pandemonium, but in a a good way. Everyone was really awesome and helped each other out and it was just a great overall experience.”
In accordance with the event's garden theme, Fowler showed her Spring 2011 pieces, which were flirty, floral and full of color. From soft tangerine to orchard hues of purple, the line blended bright colors with various cuts of one shoulder, V-neck and sweetheart dresses. Perfectly fitting, any of the dresses (or even the rompers shown) would make perfect pieces to wear to a garden party, spring fling, or polo match. The wedges, peep toes and strappy sandals supplied by Charlotte-based Heels.com were perfect additions to the dresses, as well as the turquoise costume jewelery from Stella & Dot. In the near future, Fowler hopes to have some of her pieces in a few boutiques in Charlotte.
August Fulton’s line, August Brandon, was also featured. Although not classically trained, Fulton quickly taught himself the art of tailoring. Known as the “designer by choice, and tailor by gift,” Fulton loves the business. When asked if he could have imagined this as his career 10 years ago, he laughed. “No! I was supposed to go to law school and become a lawyer. Isn’t that funny? Now, when anyone meets me they say, ‘Lawyer?! I could never see that!’”
The concept behind his line, which features both men’s and women’s wear, is versatility. “My idea for August branding can transcend from all day. You can take what you’re wearing during the day to evening ... to church if you wanted and even if you wanted to go out,” he says.
The pieces he showed incorporated a lot of layering and mixing of fabrics from tweed to raw silk and patterns from polka dot French Cuff shirting and paisley ties. Fulton says Charlotte pushed him into the men’s arena. Originally, his focus was women but when clients expressed how much menswear was needed in Charlotte, he shifted his focus. Toying with the idea of television, Fulton says he’s starting to look into upcoming seasons of Project Runway.
To see more photos, visit our nightlife photo site QCAfterDark.com.