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An Inside Look At StyleWeek Northeast

Rhode Island was once known as the Jewelry Capital of the World. At one point, Providence produced 80% of the costume jewelry made in the U.S. And as the home of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), Rosanna Ortiz knew there was a fashion scene that was waiting to be reinvented. That’s why she founded StyleWeek Northeast in 2009. “I started it to give designers a platform and the resources they need to start a collection,” says Ortiz, a native Californian with a background in marketing and public relations. “It provides an industry so RISD people don’t have to leave.” Going on now through September 18th, 15 runway shows will be held at the ballroom at the Providence G (don’t miss Rooftop at the G for a killer view of the city and delish cocktails and Mediterranean fare), plus an accessory showcase and, of course, fashion after parties.


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“Rhode Island is known as a fashion destination, but we’re open to designers from anywhere,” says Ortiz. Though people come from all over country, 45% of the designers that show are from Rhode Island. Applicants are interviewed over Skype, and they must have a collection that is brand new and has never photographed before—they exclusively show debut collections. They’re also the only regional fashion week that follows the trade schedule. These five rising fashion brands are a few of the standouts in the local Providence style scene.

Kent Stetson Growing up on a horse farm in New Hampshire, Kent Stetson’s mother did all of her own tack work, which is how he learned to do leatherwork. Specializing in print and leatherwork, he started making bags 14 years ago and now they’re sold in 250 stores around the world. Stetson initially came to Providence as a pre-med student at Brown and, as an artist himself, fell in love with the creative scene. “The fashion scene in Providence is like an art scene,” he says. “Bags were initially a way to package my art, but now it’s my medium.” Now he makes 150 bags a week, all handcrafted in his studio, many from luxe materials like wild caught snakeskin. Instead of making patterns, he rolls each hide out individually to create the purse. “It’s a sculptural process,” he says. Every bag is one of a kind and Stetson personally signs the interior of each one. Once you get your hands on one of his signature printed bags, you’ll want to collect them all.

House of Cach If Alexander McQueen had a futuristic accessory collection, it would be House of Cach. The brainchild of Alexa Cach and Molly Northern, the jaw-droppingly unique line offers ready to wear and custom designs for men and women. Inspired by large-scale art projects, with materials sourced from all over the world, it’s truly wearable art, all handcrafted from unexpected elements. Take the #projectbug collection, which uses real preserved insects, including a brass chest piece made from gilded cicadas with semi-precious stones, coconut wood, freshwater pearls and vintage pieces. The same preservation technique was used for the Modern Madonna collection, but this time with roses, lilies, and orchids captured in full bloom. The newest RTW line, “Armor,” takes its cues from a post-apocalyptic world where resources are scarce. Whether you opt for a more classic or experimental piece, any accessory from House of Cach is a head turner.

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All that Jazmin: A newcomer to fashion world looks like a star

PITTSBURGH | If you don’t know designer Jazmin Jackson, get acquainted with the name. It’s apt to keep popping up in Pittsburgh fashion — and beyond.

At the recent third annual Style Week Pittsburgh, Jackson’s line, Jazmeen, was featured at the opening night fashion showcase. She also was a nominee in the designer of the year category at the local 2015 Style Awards.

But for Jackson, who launched her label in 2012, being a designer isn’t just about creating clothes that look good. It’s about trying to do some good in society. With aid from The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments’ Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh grant, Jackson started the Supercool Tour, an interactive life skills seminar geared toward teen girls that uses fashion and the arts to promote self esteem and careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). She also works part time as a graphic designer and operations support and information specialist for Tickets for Kids, a nonprofit that provides in-need children and families with tickets to cultural and creative activities.

Jazmin Jackson

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“I’ve always loved designing,” says Jackson, who’s been sketching looks since age 10. She learned how to sew from her grandmother, a seamstress who worked in sewing factories and sold her pieces in boutiques in Atlantic City, N.J.

In high school, Jackson further sharpened her fashion skills by designing her prom dress and creating a few professional looks for college. (She graduated in 2008 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in business administration and studied costume design, couture sewing, draping and pattern making in the school’s Master of Fine Arts costume production program. She moved here after graduation and now resides in the area.

“I don’t like shopping to this day,” she says, adding that it’s often difficult to find fashion-forward apparel that fits a tall frame with curves like hers. “That was one of the reasons I wanted to create clothing for women who have different body types.”

In addition to a flattering fit, her pieces are known for their vibrant kaleidoscopic prints, which Jackson digitally creates and then has transferred onto fabrics she uses in her designs. She’s also a member of TechShop Pittsburgh, where she’s learning laser cut and embroidery techniques to incorporate into her line.

“It’s very rewarding to be able to make something from scratch,” she says.

These days her other “passion project” is prepping for the Supercool Tour, which will travel this fall to schools and youth groups across the city and to New York. Rather than a traditional fashion look book, in which highly stylized models (sometimes in sexualized or submissive poses) are photographed in a designer’s collection, Ms. Jackson produced a photo book where the girls wearing her clothes are shown engaged in activities such as rock climbing, changing a tire or working in a science lab. Teens will compare the images depicted in her book to ones in photo spreads from high-fashion magazines so they can learn to recognize the differences in how the models are portrayed.

“It goes back to the lack of positive imagery that you see of women in all forms of media,” Jackson says. “I want to make them aware.”

The workshop also will explore how STEM concepts can be applied to problem solving in the fashion and beauty industries, such as determining what properties make a fabric good for wicking moisture, or how pH levels relate to shampoos and conditioners.

“These are things where they can use science in a fun way,” she says.

She hopes her fashions spread a sense of fun to those who wear them, too. For now, she specializes in limited-edition pieces sold online at (about $80-$150 on average for sporty pieces, and approximately $250-$400 for dresses). She’s interested in aligning with some local boutiques so she can expand the reach of her business and its impact.

“It’s always good to hear from other people that your clothes make them feel good.” she says. “I definitely see opportunities for it to grow.”

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Miss Belding Scholarship Pageant coming to Belding High School

This Saturday, Aug. 29, contestants in the Miss Belding Scholarship Pageant will be taking the stage to see who will be crowned Miss Belding for 2015.

The Miss Belding Scholarship Pageant is an annual tradition that allows young women in the Belding area to show off their various talents, skills, and knowledge. According to Julie Mikek, pageant co-chair, whoever is crowed Miss Belding will hold a number of responsibilities.

The 2015 Miss Belding contestants, from left to right: Kiana Pollock, Desirae Lovell, Hannah Kellogg, 2014 Miss Belding Allison Harrison, Kiley Walch and Alexis Cahill.

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“The winner will represent Belding,” Mikek said. “There is about 10 to 12 parades they’re in every year, and they must show up to those.”

Mikek said that along with representing the city and attending parades, the winner must remember to do one more thing: have fun.

A dress rehearsal for the pageant is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 28, where pageant participants will gather to practice for the event as if it is the real thing to ensure that everyone knows where to be and what to do.

The pageant itself will take place at the Belding High School Auditorium, located at 850 Hall St. in Belding, starting at 7 p.m., and a $10 fee will be charged at the door.

“Basically, the girls are vying for scholarship money,” Mikek said. “The top two title winners will receive scholarship money, as well as the runner up.”

Mikek said that the scholarship amounts vary from year to year, and the amount will be revealed on Saturday.

There are 13 contestants in this year’s pageant, ranging between four categories: Kiddie King and Queen, Junior Miss Belding, Young Miss Belding, and Miss Belding.

Contestants for Kiddie King and Queen are Carlie Willingham, Jordyn Mathews, Brian Hanner, Yaelynn Tayler, and Cayla Nielsen.

Contestants for Junior Miss Belding are Mackenzie Fleser, Lauren Barker, Jenisa Henry, Laken Cheney, Katelynn Walch, and Anastasia Hintz.

Competing for the Young Miss title is Jaslyn Henry and Kayla Walch.

The Miss Belding contestants are Kiana Pollock, Desirae Lovell, Hannah Kellogg, Kiley Walch, and Alexis Cahill.

Allison Harrison was crowned Miss Belding in 2014, Maddie Hubbart was Young Miss 2014, and Lauren Thompson was named the 2014 Junior Miss Belding.

The evening will begin with the contestants performing an opening number. The theme of this year is “The Lorax” by Dr. Suess, so each contestant will be dancing to music from the movie.

Following the opening number, each contestant will introduce themselves, and the Kiddie King and Queen will be named.

Contestants in the Young Miss and Junior Miss categories will then take the stage in their ‘expression wear,’ which is clothing that shows their personality and interests in their everyday lives.

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