When I found out that three07 designer Melissa Grimes was going to be on Under the Gunn Season One, I nearly jumped out of my socks! I was so very excited for her, and I could not wait to attend the premiere party!
During the first episode, I was sitting on the edge of my seat and falling in love with the dot-on-dot ensemble Designer Melissa created–it was so cute that I wanted to reach right through the TV to get it! Surprisingly, Melissa did not make it to the next episode; however, she stayed true to her classy aesthetic while representing the South fabulously with her precious and drama-free attitude–that is better than winning any reality TV show in my book.
Now, without further ado, I present to you the VIP Interview with designer Melissa Grimes!
VIP: Melissa, tell me a little bit about yourself.
Melissa: I am originally from Mobile, Alabama; and I moved to Birmingham two years ago to work on a clothing line that I co-own with two of my best friends from college [April Moore and Courtni Tyre]. We all attended the University of Alabama together and starting a clothing line was always something that we dreamed about in school!
VIP: What inspired you to audition for Under the Gunn?
Melissa: Auditioning for Under the Gunn was not something I ever thought that I would have the guts to do! We were contacted by someone who had seen our work, and they suggested that we try out–it was an opportunity we simply could not pass up!
VIP: Who are you as a designer?
Melissa: It can be hard to differentiate my personal aesthetic from that of our company three07–We all have a very similar sense of style with our own little tweaks that make it unique. I am very girly- I love fun prints, bright colors, full skirts–I believe fashion should be fun and make you smile!
VIP: Who or what inspired you to become a designer?
Melissa: I think I was always driven by a general love of fashion–I actually started out in interior design when I realized that it wasn’t for me. It seemed the more obvious choice was right in front of me–so I switched to apparel design!
VIP: What is it like having a clothing line with your best friends?
Melissa: It is great! We love to bounce ideas off of each other, and we each bring a different perspective to the table when deciding on fabrics and final designs. I consider myself very lucky!
VIP: Even though you were eliminated, what was it like being able to be on the first season of Under the Gunn?
Melissa: It was an unforgettable experience! It was such an honor to be chosen, and I was able to meet so many amazing people–and of course Tim Gunn himself! I cannot say that I ever imagined myself on reality TV, but it turned out to be so much fun!
VIP: What was it like having to create an entire look in just six hours? *gasp* I totally couldn’t do that!
Melissa: So Stressful!! I really like to process everything and think things through when I work; however, there was no time for that– you know going into the competition that there will be time constraints, but it doesn’t really sink in until you are there in the moment!
VIP: The mentors did not like your dot-on-dot creation; however, I LOVED it because it was classy and wearable. Do you think had you made a more dramatic/flashy piece that the mentors would have liked it better?
Melissa: They may have, but I think that I stayed true to myself and really loved how my look turned out on the runway!
VIP: If you could go back and design something totally different, what would you do?
Melissa: I have tried not to over-think the “what if.” I would love to say that I would have sent an elaborate ballgown down the runway or something equally dramatic, but that’s not really me!
“A reminder to everyone to continue to tune in on Thursdays @ 9/8c,” says fashion designer Melissa Grimes. “The remaining designers are so talented- I cannot wait to see what they create!”
To learn more about three07 and the designers behind the clothes, check out the VIP Interview here!
Young Professionals of Birmingham [YPBirmingham] is a nonprofit, volunteer-run organization which was created in 2007 on the platform to inform and engage the young professional population in the Birmingham metro area. “We want to encourage the young members of Birmingham’s workforce to participate in local events, learn about the critical issues facing our city and develop a sense of commitment to Birmingham.” (www.ypbbirmingham.com)
Each year, ten young professionals are chosen to raise awareness, support, and donations towards a charitable organization of his/her choice. Not only do these young professionals help support and give back to their community, but they also compete for the fabulous and coveted title of Mister and Miss Young Hot Birmingham.
This year’s annual Young Hot Birmingham event was sponsored by Butler’s Grooming for Men located inside of Saks Fifth Avenue at The Summit Lifestyle Center. Attendees celebrated with delicious hors d’oeuvres from Maki Fresh, delectable desserts from Seasons52, and an open bar featuring a selection of fine beer, wine, and mixed drinks.
To show off the Young Hot Birmingham nominees, Saks Fifth Avenue styled and dressed each contestant in stunning merchandise for the young hot men and women to strut the catwalk. Contestants sported labels such as Hugo by Hugo Boss, Burberry Brit, Valentino, and BCBG Maxazria. As each nominee modeled Saks Fifth Avenue’s fall apparel, I was taking notes on what new items I was going to need in my fall wardrobe. What better way to show off new fall fashions than with young professionals in the Birmingham area!
After much anticipation, the winners of this year’s Mister and Miss Young Hot Birmingham were announced. The ever so stylish and handsome Ian Henderson Dexter was honored with the title of Mister Young Hot Birmingham and the fabulous and gorgeous Lindsay Ghee was crowned Miss Young Hot Birmingham.
Ian Henderson Dexter is a Washington and Lee University graduate who holds the title for a three-time NCAA Honorable Mention All American in swimming. Ian is currently a partner at Fusion Advisory Services, which is a boutique consulting firm that works to help businesses source funding for growth by utilizing tax credit equity with a focus on urban development. After graduating from Washington and Lee University, Ian grew passionate about the “locavore” movement. When friends introduced him to the Jones Valley Teaching Farm, he fell in love with its unique mission of encouraging community health through the nourishment of the mind and body. Ian Henderson Dexter’s mission was rewarded when he received the title of Mister Young Hot Professional.
Lindsay Ghee is a University of Alabama graduate and second-year law school student at The Birmingham School of Law perusing a legal career in family law, environmental law, and animal welfare law. Lindsay is the President and Co-Founder of 4Legs4Justice Animal Advocate and Rescue. With the 4Legs4Justice Animal Advocate and Rescue, Lindsay desires to rescue and “rehome” animals across the United States. Since 2003, Lindsay has annually participated as a camp counselor and staff member at Camp McDowell’s Special Session for mentally and physically disabled adults. When it came time to choose her charity, Lindsay was inspired to represent and raise money for The Norma Livingston Ovarian Cancer Foundation in honor of Brittany Waldrep. Lindsay Ghee was awarded the title of Miss Young Hot Professional as she raised more than $30,000 for The Norma Livingston Ovarian Cancer Foundation.
The Young Hot Birmingham nominees and their charities of choice for the 2013 event are as follows:
Miranda Stiles, a University of Alabama graduate, is currently serving as the Event Coordinator for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation of Alabama. When Miranda was a freshman, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Miranda Stiles was honored to represent the Breast Cancer Research Foundation of Alabama because its mission is so dear to her heart. She was offered a position with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation of Alabama and currently serves as the Event Coordinator. The statewide efforts of the organization were close to Miranda’s heart after her mother was diagnosed with Breast Cancer her Freshman year in college and most recently Ovarian Cancer.
Polly Allen, a Baton Rouge native and University of Mississippi and Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law graduate, has a passion for helping others. She chose to raise support and money for the Make-A-Wish Alabama because she enjoys working directly with the children and families involved.
Will Powell, a Washington and Lee University class of 2005 graduate, is actively involved in the Birmingham community. Will’s desire is to raise awareness for the importance of providing care and development training for infants and toddlers with special needs. The Bell Center for Early Intervention Programs was a natural fit for him.
Chad Ellis, a University of Alabama graduate, has a contagious entrepreneurial spirit and love for his community. He is the founder of Charles R. Ellis Designs and the lifestyle website Men’s Fashion Advisor. Chad chose to support and raise awareness for the Children’s of Alabama Child Life Program.
Claire O’Rear, who received her Masters of Science in Health Administration from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, is currently working for HealthSpring where she observes the impact that chronic conditions such as diabetes have on the health of our communities. Her passion for finding a cure for diabetes led her to support and raise money for the American Diabetes Association.
John McElrath, a native of Rome, Georgia, raised money for The Literacy Council. John moved to Birmingham and began a career in Real Estate Development of student housing. After his accomplishments in Real Estate Development, John started his own Birmingham-based company State Traditions. Both John and his wife Stacey are members of The Literacy Council and are passionate about raising money for this nonprofit. is an industry leader creating top-notch, state and country-inspired apparel and accessories that reflect traditions across America and the world
Kristen McGee, who is a Samford University graduate, is a realtor with the Gusty Gulas Group at Realty South. Growing up in Birmingham, Kristen and her family visited homes of participates of the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind. These visits sparked Kristen’s passion for helping the special needs community. Kristen’s involvement as Junior Board President of The Exceptional Foundation and her love for the special needs community led her to raise awareness, support, and money for The Exceptional Foundation.
Michael Green graduated from the University of Alabama at Huntsville with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and Chemistry. Currently, Michael is a regional training manager for the Southeast Region for Alcon Vision Care. Playing and coaching various levels of soccer including club, high school, college, and semi-pro inspired Michael to raise money and support for the Vestavia Hills Soccer Club Scholarship Foundation.
It was a spectacularly record-breaking year for the Young Professionals of Birmingham organization as the contestants raised over $50,000 for ten absolutely amazing charities! Next year, let’s help the Young Professionals of Birmingham go above and beyond this year’s $50,000 record by supporting these ambitious and caring Birmingham-locals in their raising of donations and awareness for such wonderful nonprofit organizations.
Become a member of YPBirmingham today so that you can “Get Out, Get Social”. “There are endless opportunities to get involved in Birmingham, and it’s our mission to help make them accessible to you. Involvement with YPBirmingham supports local nonprofits, organizations, businesses and ultimately, our city.” (www.ypbirmingham.com) Visit www.ypbirmingham.com to sign up for a membership today!
For more pictures from the Young Hot Birmingham event, please visit my Facebook page here. Please feel free to tag you and your friends in any of the photos!
Saturday night’s finale was full of excitement and anticipation from the heidi elnora bridal runway show to the announcements of the Emerging and Rising Design Star winners–not to mention the headlining designer Tibi.
Birmingham Fashion Week 2013 concluded with a big, dazzling bang! The finale began with wedding gown designer and co-founder of BFW Heidi Elnora’s collection, which was inspired by the movie Snow White and the Huntsman. “Brides-to-be can find heidi elnora gowns across the world and in Nordstrom Bridal Salons as she has dressed hundreds of brides from L.A. to Dubai.” (www.bhamfashionweek.com)
Big round of applause to the 2013 Emerging Designers! All of their designs were incredibly creative and aspiring! I am so glad that I did not have to pick winners…It would have been pretty much impossible because each collection was truly breathtaking!
BFW 2013 Emerging Designer Winners:
1st Place: Elizabeth Singleton showcased an eye-catching collection that wowed everyone! She is this year’s Birmingham Fashion Week Emerging Designer Winner.
2nd Place: Sarah Winford exhibited a tremendous collection that crowned her runner up of BFW’s Emerging Designers competition. The VIP would love to wear her garments!
3rd Place: AnnaKay Winford (sister of Sarah Winford) and Allison Mills tied for third place in the competition. Both designers displayed marvelous garments–it would have been hard for me to choose just one!
Let’s give a grand congrats to the 2013 Rising Design Star competitors! These talented rising stars designed garments using nontraditional items (garbage bags, paper, can tops, bubble wrap…) and assembled these upcyled frocks with glue, tape, and staples. The eighteen finalists displayed their designs one last time on the Birmingham Fashion Week runway during the finale. “Birmingham Fashion Week wants to help promote and inspire teenagers to follow their dreams….It makes me happy to involve these students in BFW.” exclaims Jeana Lee Fleming, co-founder of Birmingham Fashion Week.
To learn more about the Rising Design Star competition, click here.
Want to see more photos from the 2013 Rising Design Star Competition? Check out the VIP Facebook page here!
2013 Rising Design Star Winners:
Annie Bloomston (age 16) of Mountain Brooke High School was named Birmingham Fashion Week’s Rising Design Star of the year. Annie was also the “People’s Choice” when the competitors garments were on display at the Birmingham Museum of Art.
Preston Mills (age 17), runner up of the BFW Rising Design Star competition, created a garment that weighed a whopping 35 pounds!
Bradford Billingsly (age 11) won the third place prize in the competition. He designed a fantastic hand painted piece!
Featured boutiques of the night were Laura Kathryn, Shaia’s (menswear), and Gus Mayer. Each store exhibited superb spring attire that had the whole crowd ready to shop!
“Laura Kathryn is an exclusive women’s boutique located in Crestline Village. Dressing the city’s women for the past twenty years, it carries one of a kind items and select designer labels,” www.bhamfashionweek.com
Shaia’s displayed sexy and sporty men’s attire on the BFW runway. “Shaia’s is a men’s wear retailer in the finest sense of tradition. More than a shop that sells suits, sportwear, shoes, accessories, and formal wear; it is a destination for camaraderie,” www.bhamfashionweek.com
Gus Mayer featured marvelous fashions that made every lady ready for a shopping trip! “Gus Mayer is one of the premiere shopping destinations of The Summit Lifestyle Center. It sells designer, contemporary, bridge clothing, accessories, shoes, and jewelry for women,” www.bhamfashionweek.com
Headlining designer of the night was Amy Smilovic (Tibi). “Tibi’s contemporary clothing line is sold at more than six hundred retailers worldwide, including Neiman Marcus, Harrods, and Saks Fifth Avenue.” (www.bhamfashionweek.com) ” I love it when I see an individual’s personal style reflected in the way they dress. And I always think a woman should dress in contradictions – youthful and sophisticated, masculine and feminine, bold and muted colors,” http://www.tibi.com/about/inspiration/
Hello, hello, hello, fashionistas! I have a fabulous interview to share with y’all today…the interview with the darling designer, Mandi Faulk! She was the winner of the 2012 BFW Emerging Designer Competition. So, without further ado, I present to you, the interview with the fantastic Mandi Faulk!
Tell us a little about yourself!
I’m a twenty-seven year old fashion designer from Oxford, Alabama. I grew up with three older sisters and a huge passion for design.
I began my apparel design degree when I was nineteen at The University of Alabama. My father was diagnosed with prostate cancer shortly after, so I moved back to Oxford when I was twenty-one to help my family.
While back in Oxford, I worked in retail management for four years and took Esthetic classes at a local college. Once my father was able to work his consulting business again, I moved back to Tuscaloosa in April 2011 to finish my degree in apparel and textile design at UA.
Who inspired you to become a designer?
Growing up, my mother designed and made jewelry. She allowed me to create whatever I wanted, and I believe that was the beginning of my apparel design obsession.
When I was about six, I would set up my bedroom like it was my clothing store instead of playing “teacher” or “tea party”. I took clothes from my closet and displayed them all over my room for my sisters to come shopping.
In 5th grade, I began drawing my own designs. I was a fan of the Spice Girls, and their unconventional sense of style inspired me to design new looks for them.
In 6th grade, I started redesigning my own clothes. I would put something on and couldn’t help but imagine it looking better “like this.” My parents were always supportive of my designs and encouraged my imagination.
It is hard to believe it has been a year since you won Birmingham Fashion Week Emerging Designer 2012. How has your life and designs changed since winning that competition?
Since BFW 2012, I graduated from the University of Alabama with a degree in apparel and textile design.
Winning the competition boosted my design confidence, and I have visually designed too many things to get down on paper. Since winning, I have had the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people in the industry and have been recognized locally. It’s very surreal and I’m so thankful for such a wonderful blessing.
Also, I am currently seeking a fashion design job and building my website.
Tell us about your design philosophy.
My foundation for design is to be innovative and fresh by using a commixture of fashion-forward styles. I constantly seek inspiration, whether it’s obtained through architecture, nature, textures, or timeless icons. My dreams have been crucially beneficial as an element of inspiration and manifestation.
I like the idea of embracing the beauty of grunge while preserving the sexy, urban sophistication of today’s modern woman. The woman I design for is chic, trendy, and appreciates a fresh dynamic esthetic. I want my customer to feel confident, strong, and beautiful while she makes it look easily natural to others.
I adore your “Wanderlust” collection! What is the inspiration behind it?
Thank you! The inspiration behind Wanderlust came from the idea of combining different styles from different locations. When someone is asked about their style, I don’t feel they should be limited to just one. Wanderlust is a mixture of textures and natural colors. It’s bohemian sophistication with an edge.
What is the best advice for aspiring designers?
Don’t second guess yourself. If you visualize something, draw it. If you end up not loving it, you can determine what it is that you like about that design and incorporate that into something better. Second guessing yourself is a good way of bruising your imagination.
To be a designer, you must be self-motivated and really live, breathe, and dream design. If it’s there, it will only intensify. If you’re interested more in clothes that you in see in stores rather than ones that pop into your head, you could become a stylist. It takes just as much creativity and talent to become a stylist as it does a designer. Some of my friends in design school said that they too had been faced with this life decision.
On your website, you talk about “Alabama Forever” and “Operation Prom Dress” charities. How did you become involved with these organizations, and how can the VIP readers help support them?
Alabama Forever is a charity founded by Alex Sokol and Chris Nix. After the April 2011 tornadoes in Alabama, this charity was formed to help those communities. I had the pleasure of meeting Alex Sokol at BFW 2012, and his passion for this charity is contagious. The Emerging Designers from BFW 2012 were asked to design a tshirt for this charity. This is their mission statement: “The mission of Alabama Forever is simple-to help our communities in need. Alabama Forever was founded by tragedy, developed by necessity, and inspired by the beauty and strength of what makes Alabama special, its people. Our efforts will all be community based with the sum of the whole being far greater than its parts.” –Alabama Forever www.alabamaforever.org/
The University of Alabama has a club called Fashion Inc. I was the Vice-President for that club, and we got involved with Operation Prom Dress. We wanted to do something for the high school girls in Tuscaloosa that were affected by the tornadoes, as well as those that were financially unable to buy a new prom dress. Every girl deserves to feel beautiful on prom night, so Fashion Inc. partnered with Operation Prom Dress and we held many dress drives. Over 170 dresses were donated to us. I’m beyond grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of such a humbling experience. I’ll never forget the profound appreciation and genuine smiles of the girls when they came to pick out their dresses. www.opdproject205.org/
What are you bringing to the Birmingham Fashion Week runway this year?
This year, I will be showing new designs from my Wanderlust collection. It is my spring line that covers different types of styles. It’s a little more casual than my Catching Dreams collection that I showed last year. I incorporated browns and blacks, which, for whatever reason, has gotten such a bad rap. Rusts and burnt oranges aren’t typically what you would see for a spring collection, so I incorporated those as well. I want to encourage people to think outside the box instead of limiting their wardrobe choices.
When you are not designing, what do you enjoy doing?
When I’m not designing, I try to spend as much time as possible with my family and friends. My family is a huge part of my life and spending time with them reminds me of what’s important in life. I’m a Southern girl at heart, so I really enjoy being outdoors. Whether it be fishing, boating, hiking, or kayaking, I’m going to love it. As far as my guilty pleasure: ice cream. It could be snowing outside and ice cream would always sound like a delicious idea!
VIP QUESTION: What is one item in your closet you would never toss out and why?
As superficial as this might be, I refuse to throw out my “skinny” jeans. Not skinny as in the fit, because they’re flared, but skinny as in the jeans I wore when I was at my fittest. The knees are worn out with authentic holes and other places have been patched up like a champ, but I refuse to throw them out. They remind me that it is important to stay active and healthy. Plus, they hold some really good memories.
To learn more about Birmingham Fashion Week, take a gander at their website: www.bhamfashionweek.com. If you are interested in purchasing tickets for Birmingham Fashion Week, click here.
Hello, fabulous fashionistas! I bring you a fantastic post today about an extraordinary event I attended at Saks 5th Avenue at The Summit (Birmingham, Alabama)…The Birmingham Fashion Week Emerging Designers Reveal! “The Emerging Designer Competition was created to give aspiring fashion designers in college and post-grad an opportunity to showcase their talent…[The Emerging Designers] will compete on Thursday [February 28] and Friday [March 1] nights for a chance to show during Saturday night’s finale, where a winner will be awarded with a grand prize package,” states www.bhamfashionweek.com