This little black dress from Tom & Linda Platt is perfect for women who want to look elegant and modern without revealing too much skin. It's available at Paul Simon Women. 

This little black dress from Tom & Linda Platt is perfect for women who want to look elegant and modern without revealing too much skin. It's available at Paul Simon Women. 

During a recent visit to Paul Simon Women, The O Report swooned over a Little Black Dress from the label of legendary design duo Tom & Linda Platt. It's perfect for the woman who wants to look elegant and alluring without revealing too much. Strategic "slices" at the neck of the dress have an alabaster lining underneath that gives it a striking style. Although it comes in multiple color combinations, buyer Anglea Knowles ordered the black/alabaster for the store and it's a knockout.  

Fashion expert Drew Scott from the Tom & Linda Platt Design Studio in New York City. He'll be in Charlotte Oct. 5-7. 

Fashion expert Drew Scott from the Tom & Linda Platt Design Studio in New York City. He'll be in Charlotte Oct. 5-7. 

Enchanted, we called sales representative Drew Scott at the Tom & Linda Platt Design Studio in New York City to learn more. Fresh from a whirlwind of traveling to fashion events, he took the time to share more details about the dress, and his thoughts on fashion for the 50 and up woman. You can meet Drew in person Oct. 5-7 during the Tom & Linda Platt Fall Collection trunk show. He'll be assisting customers from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 5-6; the collection will remain on view through Oct. 7 at Paul Simon Women at the Village at SouthPark, 4310 Sharon Road. Details: 704-333-6139;  www.paulsimonco.com

As witty as he is stylish, we laughed - and learned - from his expert answers to our questions:

What's your take on the "slice" dress?

"It's fit and flare, it's very forgiving, it’s a no-brainer. It doesn't require jewelry so it’s earrings and you’re done. Pair it with boots and black tights for an edgier look. Or pumps and hose for cocktails. It travels beautifully because it's made in our signature matte crepe fabric. It comes in 14 different colors. We've done navy and white for a more nautical look for clients going to Florida or on a cruise. But the black and alabaster is classically timeless."

Are there any other pieces in the collection that would appeal to women 50 and up?

"Our clients are women of all ages. We often dress three generations, especially for weddings. I recently helped a bride, mother of the bride and grandmother of the bride find dresses for a destination wedding. They each looked flawless. Our sizing is 2-18 and has a really American fit. I would say 78 percent of the collection is right on target for women 50 and up."

What do you recommend for women who want to look modern?

"Pants are becoming more and more popular. We've had so many clients say they are over the dress thing and over the gown thing. So we created an ensemble called skants that's a combination of a skirt and pants. It's a dynamite way to to be dressed up but with trousers. It comes in 14 colors. I did it in chocolate brown for a client and paired it with a leopard shoe. She looked fabulous and she was thrilled. I did it in red for a client - it can be an aggressive silhouette for red - but she had the personality to pull it off. I also love our full leg pants in silk velvet. They look great with an asymmetrical cowl neck top for entertaining at home."

What's your best advice for women who want to stay chic?

"You can tell right away if a woman is wearing something they like. Make sure you're wearing your clothes instead of your clothes wearing you. And when you walk into a room, pull your shoulders back."

Any mistakes you see women make?

"So many women will spend a fortune on a gown they’ll only wear once. But they won’t invest in a classic black dress that they can wear from 9 to 9 - a dress that you can travel with and is always there for you. Invest your money in timeless go-to pieces that work for you and your lifestyle. I had a client who was going on a Danube River cruise and could only take one suitcase aboard. I told her I would cancel the cruise. But I worked with her and she took six pieces and mixed them up. She always looked fabulous. Halfway through the cruise, the other women were demanding to know how she was able to bring another suitcase. They couldn't believe she was able to get that many looks out of so few clothes."

 

THE ULTIMATE POWER LUNCH

Paradigm Award-winner Jill Dinwiddie is surrounded by women who are also dedicated to making a positive impact during the Dress for Success Charlotte Ultimate Power Lunch fundraiser. All Photos By Daniel Coston.

Paradigm Award-winner Jill Dinwiddie is surrounded by women who are also dedicated to making a positive impact during the Dress for Success Charlotte Ultimate Power Lunch fundraiser. All Photos By Daniel Coston.

The Ultimate Power Lunch is Dress for Success Charlotte's major annual fundraiser. Held at the The Fillmore on Sept. 26, it celebrated the nonprofit's mission of empowering women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and delopmental tools. 

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Legendary philanthropist Sarah Belk Gambrell with Dress for Success executive director Kerry Barr O'Connor. 

Legendary philanthropist Sarah Belk Gambrell with Dress for Success executive director Kerry Barr O'Connor. 

Janice and Larry Elder, Bernie Hargadon, Joan Zimmerman and Jill Dinwiddie. 

Janice and Larry Elder, Bernie Hargadon, Joan Zimmerman and Jill Dinwiddie. 

A highlight was the presentation of the Paradigm Award to Jill Dinwiddie, whose many accomplishments include being a founding member of the Dress for Success Charlotte Community Advisors. She urged guests to make an effort to reach out and start a dialogue with those who have different backgrounds and beliefs, and to always remember that one person can have an impact.

Curtis Roy, the top fundraiser at Dress for Success Charlotte's Stiletto Swagger fundraiser, escorted the models on stage during the fashion show. 

Curtis Roy, the top fundraiser at Dress for Success Charlotte's Stiletto Swagger fundraiser, escorted the models on stage during the fashion show. 

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The models with emcee Maureen O'Boyle, left, and stylist Suzanne Libfraind, right. 

The models with emcee Maureen O'Boyle, left, and stylist Suzanne Libfraind, right. 

A fashion show featured models who are Dress for Success clients: Kathryne Foster, Maribel Garcia, Sylaine Hood, Patricia Love and Dewana Sewell. They wore clothes from the nonprofit styled by Suzanne Libfraind, owner of Wardrobe Consulting and the personal shopper for SouthPark mall. The makeup and hair were by The Daily Details. Emcee Maureen O'Boyle and Dress for Success Charlotte executive director Kerry Barr O'Connor moderated the fashion show. 

Dress for Success Charlotte board chair Carolyn Clarke with executive director Kerry Barr O'Connor. 

Dress for Success Charlotte board chair Carolyn Clarke with executive director Kerry Barr O'Connor. 

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The almost 400 guests at the sold-out luncheon enjoyed a Tuscan-inspired menu from Dress for Success Charlotte supporter Janet Woodson of La-tea-da's Catering. Everyone received  a Swaggerer of the Month Calendar showcasing photos from the nonprofit's fun Stiletto Swagger where businessmen from the community briefly strut around in heels at Freedom Park to raise money for the organization. 

A guest poses with a swaggerer in his high heels. 

A guest poses with a swaggerer in his high heels. 

RARE JEWELRY

Morgan Petty, Ernest Perry, Julie Lopett and NASCAR legend Kyle Petty at the Sept. 13 Preview Party for a Celebrity & Designer Estate Sale at Perry's Fine, Antique & Estate Jewelry. The sale continues from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sept. 14. All photos by Paul Williams III. 

Morgan Petty, Ernest Perry, Julie Lopett and NASCAR legend Kyle Petty at the Sept. 13 Preview Party for a Celebrity & Designer Estate Sale at Perry's Fine, Antique & Estate Jewelry. The sale continues from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sept. 14. All photos by Paul Williams III. 

Watching celebrities shop for celebrity-owned jewelry was one of the highlights of the Sept. 13 Preview Party for a Celebrity & Designer Estate Sale at Perry's Fine, Antique & Estate Jewelry. Among the guests were NASCAR legend Kyle Petty and his wife Morgan who shopped alongside NASCAR driver Joey Logano and his wife, Brittany. 

Julie Lopett shows friends Morgan Petty and Brittany Logano vintage jewelry pieces. 

Julie Lopett shows friends Morgan Petty and Brittany Logano vintage jewelry pieces. 

NASCAR legend Kyle Petty, Ernest Perry and NASCAR driver Joey Logano. 

NASCAR legend Kyle Petty, Ernest Perry and NASCAR driver Joey Logano. 

The sale continues Sept. 14 from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. and features a collection of rare, superbly crafted estate jewelry including pieces owned by Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Collins, Elvis, Farrah Fawcett, Patrick Swayze, Shirley Temple, Greta Garbo and Joan Rivers. Plus there are designer pieces from Cartier, Tiffany & Co., Van Cleef & Arpels, and Bulgari; and vintage pieces from the Victorian, Edwardian, Art Deco, Retro and Cocktail eras.

This extremely rare vintage Cartier Crash watch is among the unique jewelry for sale. 

This extremely rare vintage Cartier Crash watch is among the unique jewelry for sale. 

Three of The O Report's favorite pieces are a stunning one-of-a-kind Art Deco-inspired necklace from the 1970s absolutely dripping with diamonds that Hadley Perry Pacheco modeled as she assisted customers; an extremely rare vintage Cartier Crash watch; and a unique gold and red coral necklace from the 1930s. Details: Perry's Fine, Antique & Estate Jewelry, 6525 Morrison Blvd. 704-364-1391; www.perrysjewelry.com. 

While assisting customers, Hadley Perry Pacheco wore are a stunning one-of-a-kind Art Deco-inspired necklace from the 1970s absolutely dripping with diamonds. 

While assisting customers, Hadley Perry Pacheco wore are a stunning one-of-a-kind Art Deco-inspired necklace from the 1970s absolutely dripping with diamonds. 

The O Report publisher Olivia Fortson fell in love with this rare red coral and gold necklace from the 1930s. 

The O Report publisher Olivia Fortson fell in love with this rare red coral and gold necklace from the 1930s. 

Anna Mirarchi, Ernest Perry and Shirley Cress Dudley. 

Anna Mirarchi, Ernest Perry and Shirley Cress Dudley. 

A suit trimmed in faux pearls looked so right at the jewelry sale event. 

A suit trimmed in faux pearls looked so right at the jewelry sale event. 

 

 

STEP BACK TO THE 1920S

Dancers from Gottaswing Charlotte lead guests in dancing at the 29th annual Great Gatsby Gala fundraiser for the National MS. Society, Greater Carolinas Chapter. All photos by Daniel Coston. 

Dancers from Gottaswing Charlotte lead guests in dancing at the 29th annual Great Gatsby Gala fundraiser for the National MS. Society, Greater Carolinas Chapter. All photos by Daniel Coston. 

The 29th annual Great Gatsby Gala benefit for the National MS Society, Greater Carolinas Chapter, held at Wells Fargo Atrium uptown put the fun in fundraiser. Guests dressed in 1920s era attire, or black tie, to dance the night away, enjoy food from some of Charlotte's best restaurants and bid on silent auction items.

The restaurants dishing out delectable samples of some of their signature dishes were Corkbuzz, Dogwood Southern Table and Bar, Dresslers, Loft & Cellar, Pei Wei, Porter's House, Rock Salt, Ruth's Chris, Sea Level, Something Classic Catering, The Cellar at Duckworths, The Fig Tree Restaurant at the Lucas House and Vivace. 

Guests who splurged on tickets that included a VIP Speakeasy Reception sponsored by the Wurzburger family and Novant Health had a bar area to themselves and were invited to the After Party at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. 

Emcee for the evening was WBTV's Brigida Mack. The O Report publisher Olivia Fortson judged the costume contest. The winners were adorable flapper Taura Napier and dandy gent Charles Held. The committee members who helped make the evening possible were Event Chair Rick McDermott, Nancy Betler, Kevin Chandler, Kevin Conner, Amanda Durham, Stefan Friend, Alicia LaLone, Kristin Leis, Linda Rhyne, Deborah Ritter, Shanna Rivera, Joanna Schimizzi, Apple Tran and Sandy Wurzburger. 

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WHEEL PRETTY

Tae McKenzie, founder of the MFSE (Modeling To Fight Stroke & Epilepsy) Fashion for Change in an outfit designed by Tracie Elizabeth Mackins Jones, head of the Isabel Vernard label. Tracie is designing the fashions for the Wheel Pretty runway show at 4 p.m. Aug. 26 during the Southern Women's Show at the Charlotte Convention Center uptown. 

Tae McKenzie, founder of the MFSE (Modeling To Fight Stroke & Epilepsy) Fashion for Change in an outfit designed by Tracie Elizabeth Mackins Jones, head of the Isabel Vernard label. Tracie is designing the fashions for the Wheel Pretty runway show at 4 p.m. Aug. 26 during the Southern Women's Show at the Charlotte Convention Center uptown. 

Whether it's from an illness, disability or temporary injury, being in a wheelchair doesn't mean you have to sacrifice style says designer Tracie Elizabeth Mackins Jones. Tracie, a Charlotte native, is head of the Isabel Vernard label that's known for fun and feminine clothes with an edge. "I have a Southern woman's eye, but with a touch of international taste," she says. 

Tracie Elizabeth Mackins Jones with a model wearing Isabel Vernard. 

Tracie Elizabeth Mackins Jones with a model wearing Isabel Vernard. 

Tracie makes a lot of custom designs including wedding gowns, evening gowns and outfits for special occasions. Her talent for sewing and her belief that fashion is for everyone led her to recently begin creating stylish clothes for women with disabilities.

You can see her talent on the runway Aug. 26 at 4 p.m. during the Wheel Pretty Fashion Show that's part of the Southern Women's Show at the Charlotte Convention Center uptown. It's presented by Women Embracing Abilities Now Charlotte and features models in wheelchairs from The Raw Beauty Project Charlotte. The emcee is Deja Barber, Ms. Wheelchair North Carolina.

"I’ve really pushed the boundaries of what you would think you would see someone in a wheelchair wear," Tracie says. 

Tracie's love for fashion started at a young age; She designed most of the clothes she wore to school including Myers Park High School. She began her college career at East Carolina University with the intention of becoming a pediatric plastic surgeon. But after two years she decided to follow her heart and enroll in design school in Atlanta. That led to a study abroad program in London. "I thought I was going to be there for three months and I stayed three years," Tracie says. She finished school with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the American InterContinental University in London and landed a job at Diva Couture. Back in the U.S., she was an intern at Betsey Johnson in New York City before returning to Charlotte and starting her own label six years ago. 

Several months ago, she designed outfits for MFSE Fashion for Change and met two models in wheelchairs - Monique Stamps and Gentle Mitchell. They immediately clicked and began telling Tracie about their problems finding clothes to wear that weren't bland. Tracie was surprised when she found out that a simple pair of pants for a woman in a wheelchair can cost around $400. 

Gentle Mitchell, a mother of four and a wheelchair quad rugby player, in Isabel Vernard.

Gentle Mitchell, a mother of four and a wheelchair quad rugby player, in Isabel Vernard.

"I’m not in a wheelchair, so I didn’t think about the hindrance women in wheelchairs have," Tracie says. "Every woman wants to feel beautiful. Every woman wants to have an outfit she loves. I knew that I could make it happen."

When she began working on the collection for the Wheel Pretty fashion show, a childhood memory of her great grandmother popped into her head. "She was in a wheelchair for three years and she always used to say that she needed some color and some texture so she could look lively in her wheelchair."

Tracie puts a lot of thought into the textures, colors and materials she uses. Here are her tips for women in wheelchairs.

Don't be afraid to focus on your shoulders. "That's the body part that everyone sees the most."

Material matters. "I work a lot with sequins, but make sure any fabric I use doesn't itch or irritate. Some of my clients don't have full sensation, so they won't know something is irritating them until days later when they see a bruise or scratches. I use a lot of natural material including cottons that stretch. Dyes can irritate the skin so make my own dyes."

Focus on the front. "I put most of the detailing on the front and keep the back simple since it won't be seen. And it makes it more comfortable. The most important thing is comfort. When I think about my favorite outfits, I like them because they're comfortable and I feel relaxed in them."

Make sure it makes sense. "I try to make sure the pieces I design can be worn over and over again."

Be creative. "I figured out a way to make clothes that have magnets that are strong enough to stay because that makes it so much easier for them to dress themselves." 

Make a statement. "I believe in investing in a good overcoat or jacket that you can throw over anything and it immediately looks a million times better. I've been able to design dusters with a kimono-type feel that add drama to an outfit. 

Shoes are still important. "I've learned that a comfortable heel, or a low platform shoe, causes less of a strain. A lot of women wear heels for a little bit, then switch to a flat or sandal."

It's all about accessories. "Nothing is too crazy.  Think color, movement and texture. For the show, I'm doing some head pieces that I would describe as the Kentucky Derby meets the movie Coming To America."

 

UNLEASH YOUR INNER LEO

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The eclipse falls in the sign of Leo, the king sign of the zodiac. Leos are known for loving to be the center of attention. But anyone can rule the concrete jungle with these new Italian-inspired pieces from Kendra Scott at SouthPark mall. 

The Collin cocktail ring in Brass (shown above), Rose Gold and Antique Silver is inspired by Florentine doorknockers and makes a classic statement with any outfit. $85.

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The Athena long pendant necklace in Rose Gold (shown), Brass and Antique Silver has an adjustable length and removable Florentine lion charm. $175.

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The O Report also loves the versatile Gigi ear jackets in Bordeaux Tiger's Eye (shown), Ivory Pearl and Black Granite. The studs at the top can be detateched and worn separately. $80.

 

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Another regal and trendy look is the Violette stackable ring set with crown inspired details. $95. 

SOUTHERN DESIGNER SHOWCASE WINNERS

The 2017 Belk Southern Designer Showcase Winners are Natalie Woods, Mia Carreras, Marissa Heyl, Veronica Ramirez and Courtney Johnson. 

The 2017 Belk Southern Designer Showcase Winners are Natalie Woods, Mia Carreras, Marissa Heyl, Veronica Ramirez and Courtney Johnson. 

The winners of Belk's fifth annual Southern Designer Showcase were announced recently during a poolside, catwalk-style fashion show at Craft City Social Club. This year’s five winners were selected out of 13 finalists from dozens of applicants. Their winning collections will be featured in select Belk stores and online starting March 2018.

The winners are:  Agape Gems, women's accessories created by Courtney Johnson of Atlanta, Georgia; Symbology, women's apparel from Marissa Heyl of Grapevine, Texas; Natalie Wood Designs, women's accessories by Natalie and Ken Wood of Irving, Texas; Gigi Carreras, women's apparel by Mia Carreras of Snellville, Georgia; and Veronica Ramirez, women's apparel from Veronica Ramirez of Sharpsburg, Georgia. 

The winners receive a cash prize and the opportunity to refine their lines for the Belk shopper, learn about production, and experience in-store and online merchandising firsthand.

“This competition allows us to help aspiring individuals accomplish their dreams, while also giving us access to the latest and greatest in southern fashion,” said Nadine Rauer, Belk executive vice president and general merchandising manager of feminine apparel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A CLASSIC AMERICAN BRAND

Echo is famous for its scarves, but this classic American brand founded in the 1920s In New York City (where it's still headquartered) also makes everything from hats and bags to cover-ups and home decor. 

Here are some of The O Report's favorites from Echo's summer collection: 

Crochet Chevron Panama Hat (available in three different rim colors). Each hat comes with three interchangeable decorative bands. $59.

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Handwoven baseball hat, a chic take on the ubiquitous baseball hat, comes in deep blue sea, light straw (shown), black and white. $49. 

Plantains Silk Mini scarf (comes in other colors and designs). Wrap it around your wrist as a scarf cuff. Or, instead of wearing a necklace, tie it around your neck to dress up a casual look. It's versatile enough to take on a summer trip instead of your usual jewelry. $39.

Cambon Stripe Silk Square. $69, 

Pajaros Coloridos Silk Series. $135. 

Tropicalia V-Front Floral One Piece. $178.

Jacquard Underwire One Piece. $158. 

Havana Geo Reversible Essex Tote. $99.

Terry Naples Tote (available in a variety of colors). $58. 

Linen Hampton Tote. $79. 

Reversible Stripe Ruana. $79. 

Tropicalia Floral Pareo. $68.

100% Cotton Coastal Eyelet Tunic (available in white, black and navy). $99. 

Everyday Topper in Kiwi (available in other colors). $59.

Colorblock Lounge Robe. $40.

Solid Maxi Dress. $99. 

Paradise Palm Becki Maxi Dress. $198.

Chic Paisley Wallpaper. $117.

Corsis Stripe Indoor/Outdoor Pillow. $135.

Latika Dinner Plate, set of four. $32. 

 

 

DESIGNER TORRY STRAYHORN'S NEW VICTORIA CULLINAN BRAND

Emerging fashion designer Torry Strayhorn of Victoria Cullinan with, from left, her brother, Nick Strayhorn; mother, Kerry Strayhorn; and father, Ralph Strayhorn, 

Emerging fashion designer Torry Strayhorn of Victoria Cullinan with, from left, her brother, Nick Strayhorn; mother, Kerry Strayhorn; and father, Ralph Strayhorn, 

Emerging fashion designer Torry Strayhorn, creator of the Victoria Cullinan brand, describes herself as a minimalist who creates pieces for all ages that are modern yet classic. On April 27, the Charlotte native launched her brand in her hometown during two private showings of her Fall 2017 collection held at the home of neighbors and friends Aundrea and Stephen Wilson, a fellow textiles-obsessed artist. 

A model wears a hand-painted Victoria Cullinan gown inspired by the Japanese art form of kintsugi during the brand's launch party. 

A model wears a hand-painted Victoria Cullinan gown inspired by the Japanese art form of kintsugi during the brand's launch party. 

A world traveler who's influenced by her experiences exploring different countries and cultures, Torry's inspiration for the collection was kintsugi, the Japanese art of using gold to mend broken pottery. "It makes the pottery more beautiful and valuable yet you can still see the cracks," Torry says. "To apply that to clothes, I used very clean lines, gold chains and slightly off-kilter angles."

Gold chains embellish a coat from the Fall 2017 Victoria Cullinan collection.

Gold chains embellish a coat from the Fall 2017 Victoria Cullinan collection.

A self-described perfectionist who likes for things to be done properly, Torry travels to L.A. and New York City to find material that meets her standards. "I have to touch it and see it myself," she says. Sustainability is also very important to her. She estimates 93 percent of her materials are natural fibers - especially silks, wools and cottons. 

Sustainable fabrics including cotton are part of the Fall 2017 Victoria Cullinan collection.

Sustainable fabrics including cotton are part of the Fall 2017 Victoria Cullinan collection.

Along with designing her creations, she also embellishes them herself whether it's painting on the fabric or making the crushed velvet pieces in the collection by hand. "It takes an iron, water and a lot of patience," she says of the process. 

A handmade crushed velvet gown from the Fall 2017 Victoria Cullinan collection. 

A handmade crushed velvet gown from the Fall 2017 Victoria Cullinan collection. 

As a young girl, she was always sketching clothes and using her big imagination. Originally interested in dance, she would take apart her tutus and redesign her dance clothes, and she made her own prom dress. But it was a Fashion 101 class at Savannah School of Art and Design that convinced her that she wanted a career in fashion.

While still a student, she won the prestigious YMA CFDA Competition and the Cotton Inc. Design Competition. That set her on the path of working in New York City with designers Rebecca Taylor and then Francisco Costa at Calvin Klein. "He's brilliant," she says. 

The Victoria Cullinan collection on the runway at Charleston Fashion Week.

The Victoria Cullinan collection on the runway at Charleston Fashion Week.

She describes working there as an incredible place to learn and grow, but the hours were crazy. She often worked until 3 a.m. and then had to be back in the design studio at 7:30 a.m. So she decided to return to Charlotte and launch her own brand. To challenge herself, she applied to show at the 2017 Charleston Fashion Week and was one of 16 from a field of 600 who made the cut. The positive feedback convinced her she had made the right decision to go out on her own.  

This custom Mother of the Groom gown and jacket created for the designer's mother was on display at the Victoria Cullinan brand launch party. 

This custom Mother of the Groom gown and jacket created for the designer's mother was on display at the Victoria Cullinan brand launch party. 

From a bright design studio in her home, she works on her collections and makes bespoke pieces for weddings and special events. She also loves to create custom couture for her mother, Kerry Strayhorn, including a Mother of the Groom gown and jacket when Torry's brother was married. 

Surrounded by her models, designer Torry Strayhorn talks to guests about the inspiration behind her Fall 2017 Victoria Cullinan collection during the label's launch party. 

Surrounded by her models, designer Torry Strayhorn talks to guests about the inspiration behind her Fall 2017 Victoria Cullinan collection during the label's launch party. 

The age range of Torry's clients generally falls between 20s and 60s. Here's her fashion advice for those 50 and up:

The basics. "Keep adding classic pieces to your wardrobe. They make you feel put together."

The key piece. "Coats transcend any age group. If you want to cover your arms, coats can do that and they tie a look all together.

Age is just a number - explore, have fun and try different colors. "Why do we hold back? Why do we have to live in fear? Always be open to trying something new and updating your wardrobe."

The one rule you should never break. "Clothes should not be too tight."

Don't look at the size, look at the fit. "There is no standard sizing anymore. Sizes can be completely different from one company to the next."

To learn more about Torry's designs, go to www.victoriacullinan. Follow her on Instagram @victoriacullinan. 

 

 

 

 

 

MACHICAO COUTURE GRAND OPENING

Luis Machicao, the creative director and designer at Machicao Couture, recently celebrated the opening of his new design studio in the Myers Park area with a guest list of clients and friends. When he's not traveling the world, he creates gowns for an international clientele including some of Charlotte's loveliest ladies, and he has his own line of fragrances. 

Pam Stowe and Luis. 

Pam Stowe and Luis. 

Patti Tracey 

Patti Tracey 

Berhan Nebioglu in one of the designer's creations. 

Berhan Nebioglu in one of the designer's creations. 

Effie Loukas and Christina Melissaris with Alexandra and Alex Myrick.

Effie Loukas and Christina Melissaris with Alexandra and Alex Myrick.

Claire Talley, Keith Alyea and Alexandra Myrick.

Claire Talley, Keith Alyea and Alexandra Myrick.

Luis surrounded by friends and clients. 

Luis surrounded by friends and clients. 

Where the design process begins. 

Where the design process begins. 

CHARITY LEAGUE FASHION SHOW

Tricia Jetton, Fashion Show and Silent Auction Chair, left, with Elizabeth Phillips, president of Charity League of Charlotte. Photos by Daniel Coston

Tricia Jetton, Fashion Show and Silent Auction Chair, left, with Elizabeth Phillips, president of Charity League of Charlotte. Photos by Daniel Coston

The Charity League's 30th Annual Fashion Show and Silent Auction Luncheon at Carmel Country Club started on a perfect note: Quail Hollow Middle School String Quartet performed as guests mingled and viewed the hundreds of items up for bid. All proceeds from the event benefit Charity League, a historic nonprofit founded in Charlotte in 1921 to address the needs of area children. Details: www.charityleagueofcharlotte.org

During the luncheon, the Quail Hollow Middle School Chorus sang and WBTV anchor Molly Grantham emceed the fashion show. Perry's Fine, Antique & Estate Jewelry was among the businesses supporting the event and Diamonds Direct donated a gorgeous piece of jewelry for the raffle prize. 

WBTV anchor Molly Grantham was emcee of the fashion show. 

WBTV anchor Molly Grantham was emcee of the fashion show. 

Models showed off clothes from Chico's at StoneCrest and adorable children's fashions from Matilda Jane. Tammy Schumacher and her stylists at Carmen! Carmen! salon at Belk at SouthPark mall did the hair and the makeup was from Laura Mercier. 

All the models gather after walking the runway. 

All the models gather after walking the runway. 

The adult models were friends or family members of Charity League members including Marshalle Peay, president of the Pine Valley community where Charity League operates a library and reading program for the neighborhood's children.

Some of the children from the library walked the runway along with children and grandchildren of Charity League members. 

 

 

 

HALSBROOK.COM HAS QUALITY CLOTHES FOR 50 & UP

Halsbrook.com founder and CEO Halsey Schroeder in her New York City office. Her beautifully curated online shopping site is filled with unique, high-quality pieces for women 50 and up. As a special gift to readers of The O Report, she's offering a 20% discount sitewide from April 7-April 21. This offer cannot be combined with other offers. To get this special discount, please use code OLIVIA20 at checkout. 

Halsbrook.com founder and CEO Halsey Schroeder in her New York City office. Her beautifully curated online shopping site is filled with unique, high-quality pieces for women 50 and up. As a special gift to readers of The O Report, she's offering a 20% discount sitewide from April 7-April 21. This offer cannot be combined with other offers. To get this special discount, please use code OLIVIA20 at checkout. 

How did Halsey Schroeder, 32, become founder and CEO of Halsbrook.com, an online retailer focusing on unique, high-quality clothing for the 50 plus market?

"I was shopping online with my mom - we were going through all the usual suspects - and she told me that she would love to shop more online but all the sites seemed to cater to fast fashion and overly trendy clothes," Halsey says. "I decided I wanted to create something that fills that void."

In 2012 the Harvard Business School graduate with a love for fashion launched Halsbrook.com, which focuses on timeless pieces that are wearable and can be the basis of a fabulous wardrobe for years to come.

The site's beautifully curated collections have been a hit with shoppers. "Fifty percent of the designers we offer can only be found online with us, not in department stores," Halsey says. "A huge part of what we do is scour the market and find European and American designers with unique products."  

One of the reasons Halsbrook.com has continued to grow is that Its price points are in a range that's a good relationship between price and quality. It now carries 100 brands and is getting ready to launch a shoe selection.

Shoppers also love the site's Style Guide that focuses on trends and tips for putting a look together. "We try on every single item and we're always thinking about where our customers can wear it and how it might fit with pieces they already own."

Also popular is the site's Travel Guide that's filled with dreamy destinations (Charleston, S.C. was recently featured). It showcases where to stay, eat, shop and visit in each city along with suggestions for what to wear. "Travel is important to our customers, so this is a fun resource," Halsey says.

Halsbrook.com offers free shipping and free returns, plus a brilliant On Approval policy that allows customers to order up to three full-priced items and try them out at home for seven days. Only the items they keep will be charged to their credit card (there is a temporary $1 charge for each item; click here for full details). "It encourages people to take more risks - to try that silhouette they might feel unsure about," Halsey says.

If you're intrigued, here's one more reason to go to Halsbrook.com: The O Report readers get a 20% off discount sitewide April 7-April 21. This offer cannot be combined with other offers. To get this special discount, please use code OLIVIA20 at checkout. To start shopping, click here.

The O Report asked Halsey for her top spring picks. Here are a few of her favorites: 

Rachel blue rose print cotton boatneck dress by Samantha Sung, $695. To order, click here.

Denim stretch linen-cotton overcoat by Amina Rubinacci, $715. To order, click here.

Dark navy off the shoulder dress by Paule Ka, $865. To order, click here.

Amandine white stretch cotton wide leg pant by Piazza Sempione, $595. To order, click here.

Arlequin lightweight wool scarf by Heart Heart Heart, $315. To order, click here.

Ivory embellished bug Merino wool shawl by Janavi, $390. To order, click here.

Flamingo cuff from Evocateur, $325. To order, click here.

Polka dot beaded clip earrings from Oscar de la Renta, $475. To order, click here.

 

 

Camelia buntal black and white minaudière by Serpui, $200. To order, click here.

 

WHAT TO WEAR NOW

An elegant and exciting spring look from Neiman Marcus at SouthPark mall: An Escada dress, Dolce & Gabbana animal print embellished jacket and pink patent leather shoes. 

An elegant and exciting spring look from Neiman Marcus at SouthPark mall: An Escada dress, Dolce & Gabbana animal print embellished jacket and pink patent leather shoes. 

The recent Spring Wardrobing event at Neiman Marcus at SouthPark mall featured models showcasing the newest offerings from Escada, Akris Punto, Armani and Etro. 

Along with this gorgeous Escada sheath dress and Dolce & Gabbana animal print jacket with embellishments paired with pink patent leather shoes, here are three other standout looks: 

For all the spring trends, reference this new list from Neiman Marcus detailing what to wear now:

 

 

 

SPICE UP YOUR WARDROBE

Spice up your spring and summer wardrobe with affordable pieces from British designer Victoria Beckham's hotly anticipated new collection for Target debuting April 9 online and at stores. 

It's divided into five different themes: circus scallops, pressed English flowers; English lace; clever bunny and pop floral. There are also finds for girls, toddlers and babies in case you want to spoil the grandchildren in style without spending a lot of money.

And just like Victoria's bunny prints, you need to be clever and quick because the collection, which includes more than 200 pieces, is expected to sell-out. Here are a few of The O Report's favorites:

Black and white stripe scallop sleeve top, $28.

White scallop midi skirt, $35.

Black calla lily top, $30.

Black satin calla lily wide leg pant, $40.

Bee print button-down top, $30.

White button-down top, $30.

Dark floral scallop trim top, $26.

Mint green lace bomber jacket, $35.

Navy and white floral appliqué sweat top, $30.

White poplin gathered waist top, $28.

Black collared dress with bunnies on the collar (also available in blush), $35.

Blue and white gingham twill peplum top, $30.

Blue and white gingham twill peplum pants, $30.

Fuchsia twill flared trouser (also in black), $40.

Bee print scarf with marigold trim, $20. 

Girls' clear floral appliqué raincoat, $40.

Girls' light blue gingham drop waist dress, $25.

Girls' light blue gingham twill jacket, $30.

Toddler blush tea party printed top and short set, $20.

Toddler mauve dress with asymmetric scallop trim, $23.

Toddler pressed floral satin ruffle hem dress, $23. 

Baby blush bee collar body suit, $13.

Baby dark gray bunny jacket and pant sweater set, $35.

Baby lilac pleated romper, $35.

 

ART WITH HEART

Artist Sharon Dowell at Safe Alliance's annual Art With Heart fundraiser at Founder's Hall. Photos by Daniel Coston.

Artist Sharon Dowell at Safe Alliance's annual Art With Heart fundraiser at Founder's Hall. Photos by Daniel Coston.

Art With Heart, the signature annual fundraiser for Safe Alliance, raises money for the nonprofit's mission of helping victims of domestic violence. 

The heart of the party is all the generous guests who bid on works of art in silent and live auctions, and the talented artists and gallery owners who make it all possible through their donations. 

Safe Alliance CEO Karen Parker, emcee and WBTV anchor Maureen O'Boyle, and volunteer Joy Widener. 

Safe Alliance CEO Karen Parker, emcee and WBTV anchor Maureen O'Boyle, and volunteer Joy Widener. 

Kathy Rorie.

Kathy Rorie.

Artist Anne Hartness with her prize-winning painting.

Artist Anne Hartness with her prize-winning painting.

Jonathan and Eliza Liles.

Jonathan and Eliza Liles.

Auctioneer Ernest Perry with Elder Gallery owner Larry Elder. 

Auctioneer Ernest Perry with Elder Gallery owner Larry Elder. 

PRIDE AWARDS GALA GUESTS NAIL THE DRESS CODE

THE O REPORT LOVED THE WAY TIFFANY CAPERS MELDED BOTH FORMAL AND CASUAL LOOKS THAT SUITED THE GALA'S FUN DRESS CODE PERFECTLY. PHOTOS BY PAUL WILLIAMS III.

THE O REPORT LOVED THE WAY TIFFANY CAPERS MELDED BOTH FORMAL AND CASUAL LOOKS THAT SUITED THE GALA'S FUN DRESS CODE PERFECTLY. PHOTOS BY PAUL WILLIAMS III.

The Pride Awards, an annual gala hosted by Pride magazine, is always a stylish evening that includes a dinner and awards ceremony. In keeping with this year's theme, Building Communities - Changing Lives, a collaboration with Habitat for Humanity, the gala organizers really had fun with the dress code. Normally it's a black tie event, but this year guests were told to either stick with formal wear or opt for "Jeans and Other Creative Things." As you can see from the photos, the partygoers reached into their fashionable tool boxes and pulled out an array of chic outfits. 

Besides watching how everyone interpreted the dress code, other highlights were seeing honorees take the stage including the West Boulevard Neighborhood Coalition, Reid Park Neighborhood Association president Rickey Hall and Mallard Creek High School senior Taye Martin; and Raising The Roof, the After Glow party featuring DJ Kool

Nepherterra Estrada Best

Nepherterra Estrada Best

Pride Magazine editor Lashawnda Becoats and syndicated radio journalist Francene Marie Morris. 

Pride Magazine editor Lashawnda Becoats and syndicated radio journalist Francene Marie Morris. 

Francene nailed the fun mix of evening glam and casual chic. 

Francene nailed the fun mix of evening glam and casual chic. 

The evening's hostess, Dee Dixon, center, the president and CEO of Pride Communications.

The evening's hostess, Dee Dixon, center, the president and CEO of Pride Communications.

Janine Davis, left, and Sonja Gantt, right, executive director of the nonprofit Charlotte-Mecklenburg County Public Schools Foundation. 

Janine Davis, left, and Sonja Gantt, right, executive director of the nonprofit Charlotte-Mecklenburg County Public Schools Foundation. 

Pride12.JPG
Sharon Holm, left, of the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. 

Sharon Holm, left, of the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. 

Dana Davis and Mary C. Curtis. 

Dana Davis and Mary C. Curtis. 

THE AMBASSADOR'S BALL

A dusting of snow the day of the Allegro Foundation's signature annual fundraiser, The Ambassador's Ball, turned the Quail Hollow Club into a winter wonderland. Photos by Daniel Coston. 

A dusting of snow the day of the Allegro Foundation's signature annual fundraiser, The Ambassador's Ball, turned the Quail Hollow Club into a winter wonderland. Photos by Daniel Coston

The decor at the annual Ambassador's Ball on Jan. 7 was extra special this year thanks to a dusting of snow that turned Quail Hollow Club, the site of the black tie gala, into a winter wonderland. Guests at the magical evening were there to raise money for the Allegro Foundation, a champion for children with disabilities. Along with a reception, dinner and dancing there was a special performance by Allegro Foundation students and their teaching assistants. Event sponsors included Wells Fargo, Ally Financial, the Charlotte Hornets, CPI Security, Novant Health and SteelFab Inc. The special guest was Mr. Ali Al-Hajri, chargé d'affaires for the Embassy of Qatar. He was particularly enchanted by the snow. Proceeds benefit the Allegro Foundation's movement instruction programs that enhance the quality of life for area children with disabilities. Details: www.allegrofoundation.net.

Hadley Perry Pacheco of Perry's Fine Antique & Estate Jewelry, Allegro Foundation Founder/President Pat Farmer, Allegro Foundation Communications and Marketing Specialist Stephen Davis and Auctioneer Ernest Perry. 

Hadley Perry Pacheco of Perry's Fine Antique & Estate Jewelry, Allegro Foundation Founder/President Pat Farmer, Allegro Foundation Communications and Marketing Specialist Stephen Davis and Auctioneer Ernest Perry. 

Phil and Rita Witt.

Phil and Rita Witt.

Daryl and Ivars Jaunakais.

Daryl and Ivars Jaunakais.

Christine Conte, Julia Sayegh and Ebba Karlsson.

Christine Conte, Julia Sayegh and Ebba Karlsson.

Debbie Miller and Tim Black. 

Debbie Miller and Tim Black. 

Alan and Libby Simonini. 

Alan and Libby Simonini. 

Counselor Lorenzo Ravano of the Embassy of Monaco with Pat Farmer and U.S. Congressman Robert Pittenger.

Counselor Lorenzo Ravano of the Embassy of Monaco with Pat Farmer and U.S. Congressman Robert Pittenger.

Donna and Al de Molina with Julia Sayegh. 

Donna and Al de Molina with Julia Sayegh. 

Counselor Lorenzo Ravano of the Embassy of Monaco with Pat Farmer and the guest of honor, Mr. Ali Al-Hajri, chargé d'affaires for the Embassy of Qatar. 

Counselor Lorenzo Ravano of the Embassy of Monaco with Pat Farmer and the guest of honor, Mr. Ali Al-Hajri, chargé d'affaires for the Embassy of Qatar. 

Auctioneer Larry Sprinkle.

Auctioneer Larry Sprinkle.

An Allegro Foundation student preforms with his teaching assistant. 

An Allegro Foundation student preforms with his teaching assistant. 

Auctioneer Ernest Perry. 

Auctioneer Ernest Perry. 

Felix Sabates speaks with a guest. 

Felix Sabates speaks with a guest. 

Guest of honor Ali Al-Hajri dances with Suzie Trivisonno, left, and bestselling author Kathy Reichs. 

Guest of honor Ali Al-Hajri dances with Suzie Trivisonno, left, and bestselling author Kathy Reichs. 

AFFORDABLE CHIC

Fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld and his cat, Choupette.

Fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld and his cat, Choupette.

For decades, Karl Lagerfeld has been a star on the international fashion scene. He began his career in the 1950s as Pierre Balmain's assistant. Currently, he's the head designer and creative director of Chanel and Fendi as well as his own namesake fashion house. He also finds time to dote on his equally famous cat, Choupette. 

Always on trend, he launched Karl Lagerfeld Paris, a lower priced line available at www.karllagerfeldparis.com and at Dillard's (www.dillards.com). 

Here are a few of The O Report's favorite Chanel-inspired pieces from the chic yet affordable collection:

Crepe Sheath Dress With Pearl Trim, $148. 

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Tweed Dress With Contrast Trim, $128. 

Long Sleeve Ruffled Blouse, $79.

Blouse With Contrast Wide Tie, $89.50.

Tweed Crop Jacket, $118, and Tweed Sheath Dress, $148.

Windowpane Fringed Duster Cardigan, $99.50.

Tweed Jacket, $118. 

Georgette Lamb Satchel, $248. 

Agnyess Lamb Shoulder Bag, $228. 

Colette Leather Flat, $129.

Royce Slide Loafer, $129. 

Leroux Flat, $89.

Hettie Mule, $129. 

Damia Flat, $129.

Susie Bootie, $159.

Tilda Suede Loafer, $120.

Charlie Lace Up Pump, $129.

 

MIMOSAS AND MERRIMENT

The O Report was one of the social media influencers invited to attend Merriment & Mimosas: A Blogger Brunch held at Circle Court in the luxury wing of SouthPark Mall. It was hosted by Simon, owner of SouthPark Mall, Concord Mills Mall and Charlotte Premium Outlets

Something Classic Catering put together a delicious menu of breakfast food along with mimosas and a Bloody Mary Bar.

The festive decorations included a beautiful Christmas stocking from Frontgate at each blogger's chair with their name embroidered in gold thread. It was stuffed with goodies gifted by the three malls. 

Beautiqued blogger Shauntel Green (www.beautiqued.com) was not only The O Report's pick for best dressed blogger at the brunch, she was also the event's Social Media Challenge winner and walked away with a prize of a $200 Simon gift card for herself and a $500 Simon gift card to give away to her favorite charity. 

 

Suzanne Libfraind, the personal shopper for SouthPark Mall. 

Suzanne Libfraind, the personal shopper for SouthPark Mall. 

A highlight was a fashion presentation by Suzanne Libfraind, the personal shopper for SouthPark Mall. Her services include style consultations, wardrobe planning and personal shopping. (To schedule an appointment, email her at suzanne@wardrobeconsulting.biz.) She shopped the three malls and put together displays of her favorite fashion looks right now. 

Here are Suzanne's on trend tips and the fashion examples she used from the three malls. 

Layering your necklaces updates your look. 

Instead of a blazer, throw on a moto jacket. Especially if it's a stylish shade such as burgundy. 

A glitzy clutch is a fun must-have.

Body suits are back in style. This one from Dress Barn at Concord Mills is extra stylish because it's in velvet, has a ruffle at the neckline and can be worn off the shoulders. 

A chunky sweater is a Winter wardrobe essential.

This Kate Spade bag from Charlotte Premium Outlets is large enough to be a work bag and only costs around $160.  

This blue hue takes a faux fur vest to a new level.

Pants with embellishments - in this case lace overlays - can go from a day at the office to a night on the town. 

Looking ahead to Resort/Spring, Suzanne loves the look of this white jumpsuit ($298) from Lilly Pulitzer at SouthPark Mall. 

 

 

 

 

 

JAZZY HOLIDAY GALA

Guests at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture's major annual fundraiser, the Jazzy Holiday Gala, donned festive formal attire for the celebration held at the Charlotte Convention Center. The evening featured cocktails, dinner, an awards ceremony and entertainment.

A highlight was the presentation of the Spirit of the Center Awards to three honorees who have made notable contributions to the Gantt Center, the arts and the greater Charlotte community: civic leader and founding Gantt Center board member Sarah Stevenson; Duke University Professor Richard J. Powell; and PNC Bank. The award recipients received a vessel crafted by master woodturner and exhibition curator Charles Farrar. 

"We were especially excited to recognize one of our very own, Ms. Sarah Stevenson, who has been involved with the Gantt Center since its inception as the Afro-American Cultural Center in 1974," said Gantt Center President & CEO David R. Taylor after the event. 

The gala's theme was "Art and Soul" and included a drawing for one of three cultural experiences with an acclaimed artist or a luxury stay at The Ritz-Carlton Charlotte. The fundraiser provides critical operating support for the Center and its educational programs. Details: www.ganttcenter.org