The September Issue

Photo by Travis Johnson

The Baltimore Fashion Alliance’s celebration of Fashion’s Night Out, a now international Fashion Week kick-off created by Vogue editor-in-cheif Anna Wintour, took over the second floor of the InterContinental Harbor Court Hotel on a particularly dreary Saturday evening. Outside the hotel, concrete retaining walls left over from the Baltimore Grand Prix were loaded, one by one, onto trucks in the midst of a near constant downpour. Inside the hotel we found a spectacular gathering that highlighted the remarkable potential of the fashion community here in Baltimore City.


Photo by Glenford Nunez

The InterContinental’s lobby and second floor ballrooms boast an elegance belying its 25 years. A beautiful polished wood spiral staircase bathed in the mellow light of a chandelier invited guests upwards to the festivities.


Photo by Glenford Nunez


Photo by Glenford Nunez

Despite the weather, the turnout for Fashion’s Night Out celebration was “fantastic,” according to BFA board member Christopher Schafer.  Indeed, the second floor was packed with a mix of models, designers, entrepreneurs, retailers, students, teachers and fans of fashion.  Forty-one vendors offering original and, in many cases, Baltimore-made garments and accessories were set up around the entire perimeter of the second floor.  Local fashion design programs from Stevenson, the Maryland Academy of Couture Arts and MICA were also represented.


Photo by Glenford Nunez


Photo by Glenford Nunez

The event was the culmination of a tremendous effort by a large group of people in a city that has not been associated with fashion for decades.  This fact does little to dissuade Schafer.

“Take a look at history” There is a plethora of talent here. “You can accomplish a lot when you work together.”

Schafer’s optimism is not unfounded.  After moving back to Baltimore from London, where he immersed himself in tailoring for a year, in 2009, he quickly made waves in the local fashion scene.  He was voted Baltimore’s best tailor by the City Paper in 2009, and then by Baltimore magazine the following year.  In a short two years, he has developed a network of private clients in DC, Baltimore and New York that have a need for the high-end tailored suits he produces.  While this alone is impressive, he has meanwhile helped establish the Baltimore Fashion Alliance, helps provide homeless people with suits for job interviews, and spearheaded the effort to bring Fashion’s Night Out to Baltimore.  How?  “Hustling,” according to Schafer.  “You can do traditional advertising, or you can be the story.  I’ve chosen to be the story.”


Photo by Glenford Nunez

Schafer is not alone in his belief that Baltimore can once again be a leader in the fashion industry.  Jody Davis, of Jody Davis Designs, has produced an eponymous women’s line twice a year for the past two years.  Although she manufactures in California, her boutique is located at 110 W. Saratoga street.  Her gorgeously finished work was featured in Essence’s online magazine.


Photo by Glenford Nunez


Photo by Glenford Nunez

Vincent Licari’s portfolio is nothing short of stunning.  Licari specializes in high end couture gowns and women’s dresses.  Although he sources much of his cloth in New York, he calls Harford County home and “likes the country.”


Photo by Glenford Nunez

TV Ties manufactures their ties at a Fells Point facility.  American-made ties are, for the most part, a thing of the past.  “Almost everything is made in China now,” according to TV Ties business partner Aaron Haslinger.  What chance does a Baltimore tie manufacturer stand in a market dominated by Chinese companies undercutting all competitors?  Haslinger seems unfazed.  TV Ties’ advantage lies in the collaborative, multi-faceted partnership of former Oriole turned professional broadcaster Rick Dempsey, photographer and graphic designer Haslinger, apparel professional and manufacturing expert Jonathan Shapiro, silk painter Michelle Murphy (the artist behind the hand painted and dyed Artisan Collection) and none other than rock ‘n roll tailor Christopher Schafer.  TV Ties produces “ties that look as good on TV as they do in real life.”  And the ties really are eye catching, from the bold monochromes of the MVP Collection to the hypnotic prints of the HD Collection.  Each tie comes with a matching pocket square, because, according to Haslinger, TV broadcasters are now more than ever trying to “step their game up.”


Photo by Glenford Nunez

A number of schools and private fashion training programs got in on the networking taking place at Fashion’s Night Out.  Sally Di Marco was excited to promote Stevenson University’s new Fashion Design Program that she is heading up.  Di Marco recently released her book Draping Basics and is a long time Baltimore based fashion designer, teacher and consultant.


Photo by Glenford Nunez

Students from MICA’s Experimental Fashion Program displayed work examples that were at once conceptual and technically sound. Senior Kate Weintraub explained: “Students are encouraged to look at Fashion through a fine arts perspective.”  Weintraub will graduate from MICA and plans to enter the fashion industry continuing this arts-centered approach.  Instructor Valeska Populoh was clearly proud of her students’ work: “We have students interested in costume, performance, fashion…the runway becomes an expressive medium.”


Photo by Glenford Nunez


Photo by Glenford Nunez


Photo by Glenford Nunez


Photo by Glenford Nunez


Photo by Glenford Nunez

The BFA’s celebration of Fashion’s Night Out brought together fashion designers, artists, models, and entrepeneurs to exchange ideas and resources and plot a course for the future of fashion in Baltimore.  Schafer intentionally avoided a “show” for the evening, opting instead for an event that would “unify” the Baltimore fashion world.  “I’m into helping people that are helping themselves,” said Schafer.

It would appear that Baltimore has all the pieces necessary to develop a more substantial fashion industry.  Perhaps, it is through events such as the BFA’s celebration that more and more people will realize the potential of the fashion community in Baltimore.  “I love New York City,” said Schafer, “and I also lived in London.  We don’t need to have a Napoleon complex when it comes to D.C.  This is Baltimore.”


Photo by Travis Johnson


Photo by Travis Johnson


Photo by Travis Johnson


Photo by Travis Johnson


Photo by Travis Johnson


Photo by Travis Johnson


Photo by Travis Johnson


Photo by Travis Johnson


Photo by Travis Johnson


Photo by Travis Johnson


Photo by Travis Johnson


Photo by Travis Johnson


Photo by Travis Johnson


Photo by Travis Johnson


Photo by Travis Johnson


Photo by Travis Johnson


Photo by Travis Johnson


Photo by Travis Johnson


Photo by Travis Johnson


Photo by Travis Johnson


Photo by Travis Johnson


Photo by Travis Johnson


Photo by Travis Johnson


Photo by George Skepton


Photo by George Skepton

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