Posts

Photos: Courtesy of 10 creatives // Illustration: Trent Johnson

The Artistic, The Inspiring and The Fashionable: 10 Creative Female Forces in the District

With a record number of women running for president in 2020 and the largest number of women in a congressional freshman class yet, 2019 is shaping up to be the Year of the Woman in politics. Much less hyped in DC’s media, however, are the strides made by women in the arts. That’s why for our Women’s Issue, On Tap chose to highlight 10 outstanding women from the areas of performing arts, fine arts, wellness and empowerment, and style. From Strathmore’s CEO to one of Rihanna’s stylists, meet the badass ladies responsible for expanding a culture of inclusivity and women empowerment in the city.

PERFORMING ARTS

Photo: Margot Schulman

Photo: Margot Schulman

Monica Jeffries Hazangeles
President and CEO, Strathmore

Monica Jeffries Hazangles began her artistic journey when she first joined choir in elementary school, but focused her vision after falling in love with arts management as a graduate student during her time with the Friends of Chamber Music in Kansas City, Missouri.

From there, she joined American University’s Arts Management program in DC then Strathmore, where she’s served as president since 2011. In September 2018, she added the title and responsibilities of CEO to her repertoire. While serving as the Strathmore’s president over the years, Hazangles formed her personal worldview on the importance of the arts, believing they are “elemental to who we are as people.”

“[The arts] give us expanded ways to express ourselves,” she says. “They elevate, enrich and transform us. It is our job to make them as accessible as possible to the residents of this region and state. If arts are within reach of everyone who wants to access them, we will ensure that generations grow up believing the arts are essential.”

Her advice for finding authority and voice as a woman in the arts is “to demonstrate that there are many ways to lead and to be creative.”

“Women can be extremely effective in demystifying leadership.”

Strathmore: 5301 Tuckerman Ln. North Bethesda, MD; www.strathmore.org

Photo: DJ Corey Photography

Photo: DJ Corey Photography

Rebecca Ende Lichtenberg
Managing Director, Studio Theatre

Rebecca Ende Lichtenberg left Theatre J last October to join Studio Theatre as its new managing director. Although she is only 37, Lichtenberg has already made a splash in DC’s performing arts scene over the past eight years; moving to Studio Theatre gives her the chance to shine on a bigger stage, so to speak.

Studio Theatre’s Queen of Basel, showing from March 6 to April 7, focuses on empowering women by flipping the script on a play rooted in misogyny. The play is a modern, Latinx-focused retelling of Miss Julie, which tells the story of a woman who kills herself because a man told her that was the only way to escape the burden of their premarital rendezvous. Playwright Hilary Bettis’ version, complete with actual female character development, is sure to be devoid of the outdated, sexist themes of the original.

“Hilary’s take on [the play] is born from how sick the misogyny of his original made her feel, so she actively counters that with a production that is a Miss Julie without unexamined misogyny,” Lichtenberg says. “That’s why we’re proud to present Queen of Basel. It’s a take on Miss Julie that is empowering, told from a prismatic Latinx perspective, and most importantly, is unexpected.”

For dates and tickets to Queen of Basel, visit www.studiotheatre.org.

Studio Theatre: 1501 14th St. NW, DC; www.studiotheatre.org

Photo: Courtesy of Arena Stage

Photo: Courtesy of Arena Stage

Seema Sueko
Deputy Artistic Director, Arena Stage

Seema Sueko says in the grand scheme of things, she does theatre to build successful communities; but there is a deeper, underlying layer of her passion.

“Nothing beats the excitement and electricity of being in a rehearsal room with fellow artists and discovering the truths of a character’s arc or the truth of a piece of text,” she says. “We are discovering what it means to be human. It is powerful and it is humbling.”

Sueko’s current production, The Heiress, runs until March 10 and has some juicy bits of truth in store for the audience. Playwrights Ruth and Augustus Goetz based The Heiress on Henry James’ novella Washington Square, the inspiration for which he found through a piece of gossip. After Sueko finished assembling the design team for the play, she noticed she had unintentionally hired a cast of people who all identified as women, which she thought fit perfectly.

“Once I realized that, I could see how all-female design team allows us to build on the legacy of growing empowerment of this story from gossip to stage.”

The Heiress runs through March 10. For information regarding showtimes and tickets, visit www.arenastage.org.

Arena Stage: 1101 Sixth St. SW, DC; www.arenastage.org

FINE ARTS

Photo: Courtesy of Marcella Stanieri

Photo: Courtesy of Marcella Stanieri

Marcella Stranieri
Illustrator

Marcella Stranieri has always loved to draw. She’s kept a journal of her thoughts, ideas and drawings ever since she was little, and often finds loose scraps of paper covered in doodles and observations in her pockets and bags.

“These two idiosyncrasies, drawing and writing, collided with each other a few years ago when I quit smoking,” the DC-based illustrator says. “My hands were itching for cigarettes all the time. It was driving me nuts, so I started drawing out my ideas instead of writing them to keep my hands busy. I loved it so much, so I decided to start an Instagram for them.”

Now, her Instagram page @marcella.draws has more than 46,000 followers and is still growing. She finds inspiration for her sarcastic pen and paper line drawings in her daily experiences with friends, family and strangers alike. She’s found a lot of support from both men and women on Instagram and has noticed men commenting that they relate with her drawings, even the particularly “girly” ones.

“I like that people are slowly realizing that the default relatable thing does not have to be masculine. Men can relate to women the same way that women have been relating to men for the past few millennia.”

To see the latest artwork from Stranieri, follow her on Instagram @marcella.draws, and visit her website www.marcelladraws.com.

Photo: Courtesy of Lauren Brown

Photo: Courtesy of Lauren Brown

Lauren Melanie Brown
Founder, Fashion Grunge

Freelance photographer Lauren Melanie Brown created Fashion Grunge, an online platform dedicated to art, fashion and music of the 90s grunge era, in 2008 when she was living in New York City.

“The era of blogs was starting, and I was uninspired in my day job and wanted a place to talk about my favorite era of music and fashion,” Brown says. “Now Fashion Grunge has become an international platform for artists to contribute work and music related to the grunge aesthetic as they see fit. It’s great to get so many global perspectives while also tying in nostalgic culture.”

As a woman of color, Brown says she’s always trying to uplift marginalized voices and experiences on her platform.

“I always encourage people of all identities to contribute to the Fashion Grunge platform, whether it’s in traditional images or essays to express inner thoughts. I think visibility is the key for appreciating and educating about minorities. I consciously use my reach online to show not just a singular notion of what you can be and express.”

To read Fashion Grunge, visit www.fashiongrunge.com. For more information about Brown, visit www.laurenmelaniebrown.com.

Photo: Courtesy of Tati Pastukhova

Photo: Courtesy of Tati Pastukhova

Tati Pastukhova
Co-founder + Managing Director, ARTECHOUSE

Nearly a decade ago, Tati Pastukhova and Sandro Kereselidze created Art Soiree, a DC-based organization dedicated to uplifting and curating contemporary artists and their work. As technology advanced, the pair quickly realized the lack of space for artists who work with new wave digital mediums. That’s where ARTECHOUSE comes in. The “art space dedicated to showcasing experiential and technology driven works” also houses the first augmented reality bar in the U.S.

“Technology has expanded our abilities as humans to interact with what we are given and that includes our imagination and expression in arts,” Pastukhova says. “The new forms of art that will emerge through technology will allow viewers to be a part of the storytelling and of the creative processes, enabling them to curate their own experience of art, unique to themselves.”

In early spring, ARTECHOUSE will feature an installment titled “In Peak Bloom,” showcasing works of art based on DC’s famous cherry blossoms from an all-female cast of creators.

“We believe in treating everyone equal and part of that is not creating a differentiation or highlighting one individual or group over the other. It is important to highlight [the fewer number of women in arts and tech] in hopes of inspiring the current and future generation to enter these fields.”

To learn more about Art Soiree, visit www.artsoiree.com, and for more information about ARTECHOUSE, visit www.dc.artechouse.com.

ARTECHOUSE: 1238 Maryland Ave. SW, DC; www.dc.artechouse.com

WELLNESS + EMPOWERMENT

Photo: Wendy K. Yalom

Photo: Wendy K. Yalom

Kimberly Pendleton
Women’s Empowerment Coach

As a women’s empowerment coach and women’s studies professor at the University of Maryland, Kimberly Pendleton helps women realize their full potential through online and in-person courses, workshops and programs. She started her personal business of women’s empowerment coaching when she was finishing her PhD. Now, Pendleton helps over 200 clients from around the globe to strengthen their personal relationships, find out who they are and drop baggage.

“My premium program UNCOVER has helped women recover their relationships, find love and most importantly, feel at home in themselves,” Pendleton says.

UNCOVER, a 10-week program focusing on inner awakenings through embodied practices and coaching exercises, has a $1,237 price tag, but Pendleton says the high cost of service is supportive of the “high level of energy and training” that goes into her work.

“I do believe in paying women for their labor and valuing their knowledge, especially in areas that bring soft skills and social/emotional intelligence to the forefront. I also have seen that when women invest in themselves at an edge that makes them feel a little nervous, they show up for themselves in a different way and experience more rapid transformation.”

Pendleton also offers some complimentary services including #MeToo workshops, an e-newsletter and Roadmap to Romance, a free week of video trainings on self-love, empowerment, and relationships available at www.roadmaptoromance.com.

For more information about Pendleton and the services she provides including UNCOVER, visit www.kimberlypendleton.com.

Photo: Courtesy of Leah Beilhart

Photo: Vanessa Baioni

Leah Beilhart
Founder, Behold.Her

Leah Beilhart wanted to be a professional soccer player, but that all changed after one service trip to the Czech Republic from Germany.

“It was the first time I saw a photograph of myself and cried,” she says. “The amount of sweat, mud and joy across my face was priceless. It changed my life and made me decide that I wanted to give that same pleasure to another human being.”

Over the next several years, Beilhart built her portfolio, reputation and skills as a freelance photographer before landing in DC.

“Portraiture became my main game and eventually the catalyst for Behold.Her when I found myself in DC wanting to create an environment where women could feel carefree and less filtered.”

Behold.Her, now in its third year, began as a portraiture and conversational series, but soon blossomed into a project series captivating a community of women and celebrating its diverse racial, cultural, religious and sexual orientation backgrounds.

“The biggest things we focus on is self-worth. We want women to focus completely on listening and sharing. Self-development takes a lot of energy. Most women leave emotionally depleted, but at the same time re-energized to approach life a little differently or feel less alone.”

Beilhart says Behold.Her is working toward a Self Worth Conference at the end of the year. Each quarter of 2019 will have its own theme: self-worth, sexuality and consent, money and guilt, and finally, community and relationships. All four themes will be combined at the multi-day, self-focused conference for women.

For additional information about Beilhart, visit her website at www.leahbeilhart.com. For details about Behold.Her and its various programs and conferences, visit www.beholdher.co.

STYLE

Photo: Alison Beshai

Photo: Alison Beshai

Frederique Stephanie
Freelance Stylist + Consultant

From Belgium to the Middle East, France to Ireland and England to DC, Frederique Stephanie has trotted the globe as a freelance stylist and public relations consultant. Freddie, as her friends call her, has worked as a stylist for celebrities like Rihanna, Drew Barrymore, Alexa Chung, Lily Allen and Pixie Geldof. But the biggest highlight of Freddie’s career was working on the Adidas Originals campaign featuring David Beckham, Snoop Dogg and Noel Gallagher, among other big names. Style is important to Stephanie, and always has been. And while she is definitely stylish, she says she’s not a fashionista.

“Style is a better word,” she says. “It is a reflection of my unique complexity as a human being.”

Stephanie decided to move across the Atlantic when she saw the growth potential for the DC creative market. She says her success in the nation’s capital comes from her unique background and perspective.

“I’m a black girl with Caribbean roots raised in Paris, but who spent most of her life in London. The DC creative scene needs more variety and different point of views. The city is changing and so will the industry standards as people start pushing boundaries.”

Now working as a PR consultant for Eaton DC, a collective of culture, media, hospitality, wellness and progressive social change, Stephanie says it’s “one of the most significant projects [she’s] ever worked on.”

“[Eaton DC] is the perfect platform because of what it stands for and the impact it already has on the city. They are doing incredible work, which is essential in the current [social and political] climate.”

To see what’s stylish to Frederique Stephanie, follow her on Twitter @frederique_s, and check out her blog, www.thepopuphouse.com.

Photo: Matt Spivack

Photo: Matt Spivack

Jai Lescieur
Stylist + Creative Director

Jai Lescieur recently moved to DC from London where she began her career as a styling manager and creative consultant. She worked on a variety of projects that included assisting on a shoot for Vogue China, working on a documentary about David Beckham, customizing outfits for a British TV show and getting published in British Vogue. Now, Lescieur works closely with Lauren Melanie Brown at Fashion Grunge and continues to freelance as a stylist.

“I feel like I have barely scratched the surface of what DC has to offer and I am excited to continue exploring the city,” she says.

Her love for fashion and art stems from a childhood spent in Mexico City, where her mother would dress up even when she wasn’t going out and her father would wear pants tailored from curtains just because he loved the fabric so much. Now that she’s grown, Lescieur finds inspiration from powerful women like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Michelle Obama who are exploring different kinds of fashion while in the public eye.

“I love how they are changing the conversation of how women are viewed by what they wear. Although some people will always unfairly criticize powerful women for what they wear, these women are showing that fashion can also be a symbol of their empowerment.”

For more information about Jai Lescieur, visit her website at www.jailescieur.com or follow her on Instagram @jai_stylefactory.

Photo: Courtesy of John Nagiecki

Saving the Planet, One T-Shirt at a Time

Imagine you’re a T-shirt – a comfy, cotton blend, perfect for lazing around the house or showing off your favorite sports team. One day, your owner will buy a new T-shirt to replace you, well before you are ready to say goodbye. And more often than not, you will end up rotting to death in a landfill with more than 25 billion pounds of other unwanted textiles that are tossed out in the U.S. each year, according to the Council for Textile Recycling (CTR). It’s really very sad.

Of the 82 pounds of textile waste each U.S. resident produces annually on average, CTR reports that only 15 percent find a new home through donations or recycling. The remaining 85 percent go to landfills, where textiles make up 5 percent of all municipal solid waste generated in the U.S. each year. And it’s only getting worse.

Between 1999 and 2009, the amount of post-consumer textile waste increased by 40 percent, while the amount of waste diversion only grew by 2 percent. CTR estimates that by 2019, the U.S. will generate 35.4 billion pounds of textile waste in a single year. Sometimes it’s easier to just read past these numbers without  taking the time to think about how much a billion really is, so let’s see if this helps.

One billion seconds is 30 years. One billion golf balls laid side-by-side would circle the earth. One billion raindrops would fill approximately 50 bath tubs. And one billion paperclips would weigh as much as 200 elephants.

Now multiply that by 35. That’s how many pounds of textile waste the U.S. is projected to produce in 2019. And this isn’t even including the rest of the world.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation published a report stating that if production continues at this rate, the fashion industry will use up a quarter of the world’s carbon budget by 2050. Half a million tons of microfibers are released into the ocean every year, which is equivalent to more than 50 billion plastic bottles. These microfibers are nearly impossible to clean up and can enter food chains, destroying habitats and species of marine life.

After realizing all of the harm caused by textile waste, we’re left with one question: what can we do to make a difference?

The District’s Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) is trying to find the answer. On March 14, Sustainable DC – the DOEE’s plan to become the healthiest, greenest and most livable city in the nation by 2032 – launched ReThread DC, an initiative to create a culture of recovery and reuse in the nation’s capital through outreach and education. Danielle Nkojo, a sustainability analyst for waste and materials management on the DOEE’s urban sustainability team, founded ReThread because of her personal passion for thrifting and extending the life of her clothing, as well as her experience as a waste policy expert.

“I look at the fact that about 90 percent of the textiles that are out in the waste stream are usually reusable,” Nkojo says. “I thought it would be great to bring my unique interest in that to the core development of eventual policy to divert textiles from the waste stream.”

Sustainable DC has helped waste management policy before. Have you ever noticed that DC restaurants don’t hand out Styrofoam take-out boxes anymore? That’s because in 2014, the DC Council banned all food-serving businesses and organizations in DC from using containers or other food service products made from Styrofoam beginning January 1, 2016. The ban also requires these businesses and organizations to use recyclable or compostable products, which is helping Sustainable DC’s goal of diverting 80 percent of waste in the next decade.

Because they launched only a few weeks ago, ReThread is a long way from working toward major policy changes. However, Nkojo says that will come in the future. Right now, ReThread’s main focus is to answer the question, “What can I do with my unwanted clothing and textiles?” But before we answer that, we need to turn our attention to what you can do to reduce your personal textile waste output in the first place:

***

Now, imagine you’re a T-shirt again. Maybe you’re a different one this time. You’re about to be thrown out and cast aside, but instead, you end up in the arms of a new owner – one who treats you like a diamond in the rough or buried treasure, who discovered your worth after hours of digging through bins full of other tees that are also waiting to find their next home. Feels good, right?

When you feel like cleaning out your closet this spring, you can do your ex-favorite T-shirt one last favor by donating it to a local organization that will help find its next owner. And that next owner could really be in need of a new shirt. That’s where Clothing Recycling Company (CRCO) comes in.

Since 1999, CRCO has served the DMV with its attention to detail, local touch and family-owned approach to redistributed second-hand textiles. The organization partners with Interfaith Works in Maryland, Christ House in DC and A-SPAN in Arlington to help low-income families and the homeless gain access to nice, affordable clothing and wares.

CRCO Assistant Director Vlad Brostky says that one of the special things about the organization is its connection to the community. Because CRCO only collects and distributes in the greater DC area, the operation is small – but the impact is great.

When asked about why keeping it local is so important to the organization, Brostky says that CRCO wants donators to know exactly where their clothing and wares are going – whether it’s to homeless people through A-SPAN or families in need through Interfaith Works.

“This is why we’re staying small and local, but there are bigger companies that recycle huge amounts of clothing, and they are focusing on just getting as much as possible,” he says. “Basically, it’s just a mass market of clothing recycling.”

He’s referring to the secondhand clothing trade – a goliath operation where certain secondhand clothing collectors export their surplus donations to developing countries in Africa. Since 2016, the governments of the East African Community laid out a plan to prohibit all secondhand clothing imports by 2019 to boost domestic manufacturing.

In March, the Office of the United States Trade Representative responded with a threat to impose trade sanctions on African nations and announced an out-of-cycle review of the eligibility of Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda to receive benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which enhances U.S. market access for qualifying Sub-Saharan African countries.

The reality is that although the exporters themselves benefit the most from this secondhand clothing trade, there are still many people and communities that receive help from foreign organizations dedicated to empowerment and positive change in developing nations.

***

One such organization is Planet Aid, a nonprofit based in DC that collects and recycles used textiles to protect the environment and support sustainable development around the world. Planet Aid uses its proceeds from selling used clothing overseas to implement programs that support teacher training, help subsistence farmers find a path out of poverty, educate people on HIV/AIDS prevention and more.

Planet Aid Communications Director John Nagiecki says that while there is little demand for secondhand clothing in the U.S., the secondhand economy in the developing world is very robust and provides a good source of employment and an affordable source of clothing. He also says that Planet Aid sells its clothing instead of giving it away because “such an attempt would undermine the secondhand economy on which so many people rely for their livelihood and countries thus refuse to accept such handouts.” Although there are conflicting opinions about the secondhand clothing trade in developing countries, both sides can agree that something greater must be done to fix our massive textile waste problem.

“The real issue that must be addressed is the rise of fast fashion in the U.S. and other developed nations,” Nagiecki says. “We simply consume too much clothing.”

Brostky concurs.

“[CRCO] recycles thousands of pounds of clothing a month, which is nothing compared to what America really consumes, but we still are helpful,” he says. “People should be more educated about it.”

Ultimately, Nkojo, Brostky and Nagiecki all agree that one of the best ways to fight textile waste is to educate and inform the public so that they can make their own decisions on buying less and recycling more.

“The function of how we get people to care is just letting them know how much is being wasted, and how they could change simple habits that could really have a huge impact,” Nagiecki says. “To the extent that they can, we encourage people to adopt these practices so that their clothing consumption can go much further.”

Picture this. You’re a T-shirt on its way to the clothing recycling bin at the end of the block. You’re sad to say goodbye to your beloved owner, but there’s some reassurance in the new opportunities waiting for you on the other side. You could become a ball of yarn, then woven into a new scarf or blanket. You could become a quilt or a handbag or fancy needlework on someone’s hand-designed jeans. Your future is bright, and you’re happy knowing that you did your part in keeping the earth clean. Let’s keep it that way.

Learn more about these DC-based organizations and initiatives at their websites.

Clothing Recycling Company: www.clothingrecyclingcompany.org

Planet Aid: www.planetaid.com

Sustainable DC: www.sustainabledc.org

Beat the Heat: Independence Day Fashion Tips from Sarah Phillips

With so many sizzling summer events coming up, dressing for both style and comfort can be a challenge. Whether you’re celebrating American independence on the 4th or French independence on the 14th (who doesn’t love a good Bastille Day party?), we’ve got advice from an expert. Sarah Phillips, co-founder of the lifestyle blog 52 Thursdays, recommends floral, denim and off-the-shoulder looks for your next barbecue or pool-side party.

The popular lifestyle blog features Phillips, 32, and her co-founder Michelle Martin, 31, wearing the styles they love. Right now, it’s all about summer – from fashionable fitness apparel to casual nautical looks for a day on the water. In the photo to the left, Phillips sports an inexpensive floral dress from Forever 21 paired with a beautifully crafted Gucci leather handbag for an easy elegance with a touch of luxury.

Phillips and Martin met at Radford University, where they both majored in fashion and pledged Sigma Kappa sorority. After graduating and moving to Northern Virginia, the pair worked together at BCBG Max Azria and French Connection. On Thursday nights, they’d meet up for wine and dream about starting a business. In 2015, the best friends launched 52 Thursdays, where they write about style, beauty, fitness and travel. Since Martin moved to Los Angeles last year, the business has become bi-coastal.

“Starting your own business isn’t easy,” Phillips says, “especially one where you have to put yourself out there in the way that we do. But it is so rewarding to be able to do something that we both love – and we are able to share our experiences in [the] hopes that we might help others, too.”

The blog is full of summer tips, like helping you pick a great bathing suit while also teaching you how to make a delightfully cool watermelon Moscow mule. And for Phillips, summer nights are always better with a cold beer – especially a hoppy IPA.

“We usually head to K-1 to pick up our favorite beers and then enjoy them with friends on our back patio when we aren’t heading to the local breweries,” she says. “We love 3 Stars, Old Bust Head, Port City [and] Atlas.”

So, for your Fourth of July barbecue, pack up your cooler and dress in something that is “cute, comfy and won’t make you sweat to death,” Phillips says.

“You can even go with cut-off shorts and a great tee,” she recommends. “Wear these looks with espadrilles or a pair of high-top Chucks for a true all-American look.”

Check out 52 Thursdays at www.fiftytwothursdays.us.

Photos: Emma Weiss Photography and  Taylor Cole Photography

Derby Fashion Washington D.C.

Derby Fashion

Whether you’re glamming it up on the lawns at Gold Cup on May 7 or Preakness on May 21, or attending a derby-themed party, local boutiques have everything you need to be the most stylish woman – or man – under the sun.

“This is an opportunity to refine your style,” says Julie Egermayer of Violet Boutique, moving to Georgetown on May 2. Recommending lace dresses, off-the-shoulder blouses and full skirts in longer lengths, she adds, “the stacked heel is back, so you don’t have to worry about your stilettos sinking into the grass.”

Men have to dress up too, and the Lucky Knot has it all – from head-to-toe seersucker to a pretty pink bowtie your man can pair with a casual suit. Shop at their Annapolis location or adjoining his and hers stores in Alexandria.

“We also have a young, contemporary boutique one block away called 3 Sisters in Old Town,” says Athina Kohilas, who runs the stores with her family.

“There you will find the brightest and trendiest styles of the season that won’t break the bank. Our flowy racerback dress would look great with a pair of our TOMS espadrilles and a cute straw hat.”

Of course, you can’t really do derby fashion justice with a bare head.

“We have a wide range of styles for both men and women,” says Anna Fuhrman, who has been running DC’s Proper Topper for 25 years.

Wide-brimmed, face-framing hats, panamas, straw boaters, fedoras and adorable fascinators are all available and beautifully crafted, starting at $25.

“A really bold statement hat generally tells the story on its own, so I suggest simple accessories, like small sparkly studs in a hue that accents the hat,” she adds.

Have the hat but need everything else? Try Reddz Trading, located in both Georgetown and Bethesda. Wendy Ezrailson founded the shop in 2010, and it offers secondhand clothing, shoes and bags, plus a ton of jewelry – all in pristine condition.

“Everything is one-of-a-kind,” she says.

From lace dresses for $30 to high-end designer pieces, there’s a perfect race day outfit for everyone, so check out these area locations for options.


Where to get these looks:
3 Sisters: 213 King St. Alexandria ,VA; www.shop3sisters.com
The Lucky Knot: 101 and 103 King St. Alexandria, VA or 176 Main St. Annapolis, MD;www.theluckyknot.com
Proper Topper: 1350 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC;  www.propertopper.com
Reddz Trading: 1413 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC or 7801 Woodmont Ave. Bethesda, MD;www.reddztrading.com
Violet Boutique: 3289 M St. NW, DC; www.violetdc.com

Violet Boutique photo: Morgan Hungerford West
Reddz Trading photo: Vanessa Mallory Kotz
Other photos courtesy of stores

DC’s Fashion Scene

The Inside Scoop on DC’s Fashion Scene

Stow that winter coat and refresh your wardrobe with new styles from chic to street this month when the work of nine local designers makes its way to the runway at Hecht Warehouse at Ivy City on April 14. Expect to see leather and silk, lace and velvet – from edgy to sweet and flirty to androgynous. Big trends this spring include flared silhouettes, slightly cropped tops, stripes and denim. This eclectic group of designers has a range of experience – from fresh off their first fashion week to vintage scouters who search far and wide for just the right mix of old and new. On Tap chatted with some of the talent behind the show to see what they’re up to this season.

Mila & Fire

Mila & Fire are long-time best friends who combined their educations, skills and passion to create a clothing and lifestyle brand that is playful, sexy and vibrant. Two-piece printed outfits, shorts and bold patterns prevail. For inspiration, they look to street fashion.

“Many of our closest friends are incredibly stylish and fashion-savvy without trying too hard,” Kelcie Glass, a.k.a Fire, says. “They have such a strong understanding of who they are as people, often mixing feminine looks with androgynous pieces.”

Fans will see something a bit more “grown-up” on the runway this spring.

“Our aesthetic has changed dramatically since our start four years ago, and so has the style of our long-time clients, customers [and] supporters, so we want our new look to be reflective of that,” Fire says. They’re especially into shoulder-baring pieces, denim, metallic accents, lingerie for daywear and timeless dresses.

Learn more: www.milaandfire.com

Michelle C. Gibson

Michelle C. Gibson’s four-season collection, “The Bold & Beautiful,” is inspired by Lana Del Ray’s haunting track “Young & Beautiful,” as well as the “lush perfection” of the Ladew Topiary Gardens in Monkton, Md. Flowy fabrics in neutral creams and bright pops of color are draped in sheer capes and full skirts. Silk in crepe, velvet and cotton sateen gives garments a luxurious look and feel, while crop tops add a flirtatious touch. The Serenity Print Faille Top & Skirt in black and cream would flatter any body type. Gibson combined her love of art, computer graphics and Vogue to pursue a degree in fashion merchandising at Howard University, and she first showed her work during her senior year at New York Fashion Week. The results are sophisticated and fun with the aim to “open opportunity to become the best version of you,” Gibson says.

Learn more: www.michellecgibson.com

Beyond The Velvet Rope

The women behind Beyond the Velvet Rope, March Bell-Daniels and Katina Robinson-Wright, founded their company on the premise that “fashion is not exclusive.” Their pieces are approachable and affordable for all shapes, sizes and incomes.

Bells-Daniels says, “We have a quest to open the world of boutique shopping. All of the pieces are carefully selected from a wide array of distributors, manufacturers and independent designers, and in true boutique style, limited quantities of each item are stocked and once an item is gone, it’s gone.”

This spring, they’re focusing on soft denim, bright coral, bold stripes and Victorian inspiration, which take the form of draped tops with details like fringe, studs and full-printed skirts.

Learn more: www.bvrboutique.com

Brown & Williams

H. Brevard Brown III and Christopher Williams are Sartorial Anglicans: “That is, we like all things British fashion,” says Brown. Together, they created Brown & Williams, a collection of vintage menswear sourced from across the pond.

“We grew weary of the same old offerings,” he says.

They wanted to give men more unique options, but also “allow them to mix truly unique and amazing vintage pieces with their already existing wardrobes and trends.” Inspired by the likes of Guy Ritchie, Michael Caine and Mick Jagger, Brown describes their aesthetic as London street meets country chic, combining classic finds with edgy, modern pieces. On the runway, you’ll see plenty of summer scarves, ascots, safari jackets and vests.

Learn more: www.brownandwilliamsclothiers.com

Carrie Rockwell

Carrie Rockwell’s designs are soft and feminine. Using luxurious fabrics with lace details, floral prints and flared silhouettes, she creates an air of sophistication and elegance that would make a splash at any wedding or garden party. Rockwell looks to nature for ideas.

“Nature has so many beautiful details, whether it is in the spring flowers, the fall leaves turning different shades or the beautiful sunsets each day,” she says. “I try to capture those to represent some of the feminine and beautiful details I use within my designs.” Rockwell is a brand new addition to the fashion scene. After attending Marymount University, her collection was featured in Crystal Couture Show and Sale 2015, and she premiered her 2016 line this year at the same show.

Learn more:  www.carrierockwell.com

Rosies and Rockers

Mateen Khan of Rosies and Rockers looks to pin-up and punk rock fashion for inspiration, but creates his own modern twist with today’s silhouettes. His line offers a wide range of choices for both men and women that are “flirty, aggressive, edgy and just different – so you can stand out in the best possible way in any room,” Khan says. Leather pants and tight jeans worthy of Patti Smith and Joey Ramone, sweet sweaters embroidered with kittens, and lots of leopard print are a few things you’ll see. Creative tees and leather moto jackets along with 50s dresses make for a date night role play as Danny and Sandy from Grease.

“I constantly evolved and drew inspiration from the music scene and concert costuming,” Khan says, “taking something over the edge, attention-drawing, and turning it into a wearable piece that makes you feel like a rock star!”

What’s his favorite trend this spring?

“English Rose – a romantic heroine that lends a hand for social justice.”

Learn more:  www.rosiesandrockers.com

Deborah Mdurvwa

Deborah Mdurvwa’s line is not for the shy. Her designs show a lot of skin without crossing the line. Remember those mesh tops from the 80s? Mdurvwa refines that questionable look with structured cuts in neutral tones that empower rather than expose.

“I draw a lot of inspiration from women with attitude such as Rihanna, Tracee Ellis Ross and Demi Lovato because they exude confidence,” Mdurvwa says. “I design for the woman who knows her strength [and] her power, and is not afraid to confront the world with those characteristics.”

Her looks include unpredictable pairings like dark, textured pencil skirts with mesh jackets. She’s looking forward to the runway experience.

“This spring, I am expecting to see a lot of mesh, velvet and crops – also a lot of chokers.”

Learn more:  www.twitter.com/mdurvwa

Ankara Streets

Ankara Streets specializes in bold, colorful African prints that are a refreshing addition to DC street fashion. These pieces are not for the red carpet, but for the busy woman who is “sexy and turns heads even when she’s going grocery shopping with a toddler on her hip,” says founder and designer Jessica Thomas. She makes dresses, separates, jackets and accessories that include jewelry, head wraps, belts and hats.

“I’m constantly on the go and need my wardrobe to flow with me, not constrict me,” she says. “My inspiration comes from real life. I’ve designed dresses based off of my favorite apron or hair accessories that were inspired by my husband’s bow ties. It comes from all over.”

Learn more: www.ankarastreets.com

These eight designers will be joined by Elite Fitz for the Hecht Warehouse Fashion Show from 7 to 10 p.m. There will be a runway show and pop-up shop, plus light fare, music from DJ Stacks, beer and wine, and tours of the loft-style apartments. The show is free, but requires an RSVP via  www.hechtfashion.com. 21+ event.  Hecht Warehouse at Ivy City: 1401 New York Ave. NE, DC; 571-748-3245; www.hechtwarehouse.com