Neiman Marcus of Charlotte’s The Art of Fashion benefit for The Mint Museum featured a runway show of bold new styles from luxury designers including Valentino, Gucci, The Row, Akris, Dolce & Gabbana, Etro, Moncler, Chloe, Tom Ford and Michael Kors Collection. For photos of all the glamorous guests, go to the Social section. To see the runway looks for men, go to the Men’s section.
BOLD FALL FASHION FROM NEIMAN MARCUS
Football season is here, but the rules have changed. Now clear bags are required for many sporting events and arenas. Some women have resorted to carrying their essentials in plastic storage bags.
You’re too chic to be that desperate! That’s why we love these stadium-approved bags from Vince Camuto.
Suitable for any style-setter, the bags come in two versions, a tote and a cross-body. Both have faux leather trim available in different colors, plus handy pockets.
We're happy to report it was a hit! It was held April 5 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Circle Court in the luxury wing of SouthPark Mall, which sponsored the event.
Limited to 100 guests, tickets sold out in three days and there were over 100 on the waiting list. It was hosted by Suzanne Libfraind, SouthPark Mall's personal shopper with sass; and Olivia Fortson, publisher of The O Report. (Click here for an interesting profile on Suzanne that's in the People section of this website.)
The event began with a fabulous luncheon menu from Reid's Fine Foods & Wine Bar at SouthPark: kale detox salad, mixed fruit and a variety of sandwiches.
They also created a speciality cocktail in honor of program star Suzanne Libfraind - the Sassy Suzanne! It's made with 2 parts vodka, 1 part Jack Ruby Sweet Tea Syrup, 1 part lime juice, 1 part Hibiscus tea and 1/2 part simple syrup.
To get the party started, Olivia and Suzanne gave a toast - "Cheers to staying sassy and staying chic!"
Suzanne and Olivia shared their tips for staying sassy and chic no matter your age. Models 50 and up showed off Spring looks from Nordstrom and Dillard's. Carmen! Carmen! Salon at Belk styled the hair of the hosts and model; and bareMinerals at SouthPark did their makeup.
The models were Darla Desiderio, the author of Gage the Whippet series of children's books; artist Sandra McCaskill, owner of Alexandra's Accents, who creates luxury throw blankets that are in fine homes around the world; Francene Marie Morris, an award-winning radio host with Beasley Media Group, whose talk show can be heard on six different stations around the Charlotte area; Dianne Roth, the recently retired Director of Development for the American Diabetes Association Central Carolinas Chapter; and Suzanne Walker, office manager at SouthPark Mall.
Suzanne Libfraind showed off her fashion expertise by styling the models in different outfits at various price points and using each look as a way to share great information with guests about what they should be thinking about in regards to 50 & up fashion. The end of the program was a Q&A so guests could ask questions.
During the program, SouthPark Mall gave away five raffle prizes: Jewelry from Kendra Scott, a bareMinerals gift set, a scarf from the new Johnny Was store at the mall, and two gift cards valued at $50 each.
Then guests enjoyed Naked Cupcakes from Nona's Sweets & Bakery (naked means they could choose their flavor of cupcake and then decorate it themselves).
Guests left with a Stay Chic gift bag from The O Report filled with gifts from Reid's, Dillards, SouthPark Mall, Nona's Sweets & Bakery, and bareMinerals. The new Matte Liquid Lipcolor that bareMinerals gave away was so popular with guests, The O Report received numerous requests on how to purchase full-size lip colors.. To order more, contact the bareMinerals store at SouthPark Mall: 704-362-1228.
We also hope everyone who attended left with an extra sassy step to their walk and inspiration for how to stay chic!
The O Report is excited to announce this collaboration between author and wardrobe expert Suzanne Libfraind, SouthPark Mall's personal shopper; and Olivia Fortson, publisher of The O Report.
During Stay Sassy, Stay Chic, their fashion seminar from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on April 5 in the luxury wing of SouthPark Mall, they'll share their fashion tips for women 50 and up, answer questions and moderate a fashion presentation featuring 50 and up models showing off Spring looks from Dillard's and Nordstrom.
Reid's Fine Foods And Wine Bar is putting together a delicious luncheon menu for the event, and Nona's Sweets Bakery Cafe will serve naked cupcakes - a fun twist on the classic dessert. And don't miss the Sassy Suzanne cocktail! Guests will also enjoy raffle prizes and gift bags.
Sponsors are SouthPark Mall, bareMinerals and Carmen! Carmen! Salon at Belk.
Seating is limited for this free, fun and fabulous afternoon and an RSVP is required. To register, click here.
Among the sea of stylists, Whitley Adkins Hamlin of the Queen City Style stands out from the crowd. Her unique fashion sense, charm and work ethic have made her a sought after wardrobe stylist, fashion contributor, tastemaker and personal shopper.
You can read all about the Asheville native on her www.thequeencitystyle.com website and on Instagram (@thequeencitystyle). What fascinates The O Report most about this creative mother of two young boys is the influence her grandmother, Martha Whitley, and great-grandmother, Willa Lynch, had on Whitley's style and success. "Both were buyers for the luxury clothing boutique Rosenbloom-Levy and both had their own distinct style," Whitley says. "Willa always wore classic pieces, Martha enjoyed experimenting with clothes."
True to her well-mannered roots, Whitley politely took time from her A-List roster of clients to answer The O Report's questions about her stylish legacy.
What are the most important things you learned from your grandmother and great-grandmother?
"They set the bar for proper standards and everything to do with, well, everything...manners, social graces, how to dress, how to set a table, how to act, how to say thank you, how to cook and entertain, how to take your cocktail, how to interact with others, the importance of posture, poise and etiquette, the importance of sophisticated airport attire (which includes no denim for me), how to be a lady... all of the really important things."
What are some of your favorite pieces of theirs that you inherited?
"A 1950s-era black velvet Mr. Blackwell knee-length cocktail dress with intricate beading around the collar. The neckline goes just off the shoulder bones. The cut and fit of the dress is sophisticated, refined and demure which I think makes it sexy.
I also have a 1980s gunmetal sequin blouse with puff sleeves and a cinched waist. It's very Falcon Crest/Dynasty avant-garde, but since it is a top and not a dress it can be fashioned with modern day attire for a wearable yet one of a kind look.
From my great-grandmother, I have a few structured handbags that I carry quite regularly along with a couple of mink pillbox hat toppers that I adore but don't wear as much. My grandmother had amazing over-the-top accessories: brooches, belts, necklaces, scarves, rings, purses, all of it. Too many bright, shiny baubles to name!"
What are some of your favorite tips for making their vintage pieces look modern?
"I'm afraid I don't have any grand tips of my own beyond wearing what you love. At least that's how I get dressed every morning. If you love vintage but don't want to look like you stepped out of an episode of I Love Lucy or Mad Men, instead of pairing the vintage dress with the vintage shoes, bag and jewelry, just pick one item, maybe two, and pair it with a more current piece.
if I was styling the sequin top for me, I'd wear it with black leather shorts, tights and knee boots for a hip-meets-mod look in the winter. I'm also big on layering. Since the sequin top is short-sleeved, I have layered it over a long-sleeve blouse with amazing sleeves worn over a dress or paired with fitted denim pants and modern stiletto booties."
What from their era would you like to bring back in style both in regards to fashion and manners.
"I love 70s fashion, in particular - the flowy, silky, sexy mysterious movement of the clothes. Long dresses with sleeves and fabric that floated across the body but not a lot of skin showing with the exception of an occasional deep-V plunging neckline. Wide flare high waisted jeans to make everyone look leaner and taller. Feather trim, pussybow blouses, groovy patterns, head scarves, so much Boho glam.
Good manners and proper etiquette transcend time. I think it starts at home. My great-grandmother taught my grandmother who taught my mom. My mom heavily engrained the importance of good manners in me. I'd like to think I do the same with my two boys."
For those who want to pass on their favorite pieces to their younger family members, do you have any tips to make the process smooth and organized?
"I was the recipient of luck in that none of my grandmother's four children or seven other grandchildren were mad for fashion the way I am. I played dress-up in my grandmother and great-grandmother's closets my entire life and so some of their pieces were given to me early on because they knew how much joy I had wearing their things.
My uncle's wife also really appreciates fashion and so she did inherit a few great pieces of my grandmother's that I love. It makes it fun to have someone else in the family who gets equally excited over an amazing top or dress. I remember when my grandmother passed away my mom and her siblings went to her home and divided up everything. They worked hard to fairly distribute memorabilia based on sentiment. There was even some trading going on once it was all divided. My aunt also generously shared a few pieces with me that she didn't end up wearing. In the end, everything tells a story and holds a memory."
If you love the look of the trendy Split Back tops that young girls throw over their workout clothes or wear as casual attire, but you don't feel comfortable baring that much of your back, try this version from Lands' End.
Its new Split Back top has a built-in panel of fabric that's a nod to the look without revealing too much. It costs $44.95 and comes in five colors: Dark Alpaca Heather; Radiant Navy Heather; Black Heather; Ivory Heather; and Rich Red Heather.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
"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 I 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."
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.
The Athena long pendant necklace in Rose Gold (shown), Brass and Antique Silver has an adjustable length and removable Florentine lion charm. $175.
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.
Another regal and trendy look is the Violette stackable ring set with crown inspired details. $95.
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.
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.
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.
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 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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.