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Tampa is Runway Ready By Libby Hopkins

Tampa is Runway Ready  By Libby Hopkins

By Libby Hopkins

Photos by Deirdre Powell

Since our online magazine was based in Los Angeles, we thought we’ve seen everything when it comes to fashion. Tampa Bay Fashion Week proved us wrong. We were blown away by what Tampa’s designers had to offer at the gala runway show on Sept. 20. Some of our favorites were 17-year-old designer Lorena Knezevic (yes you read that right, she’s just seventeen) and her “Lolodaisy” line. Knezevic’s line offered a great classic look with a few modern touches added in for good measure. Audrey “Pat” McGhee’s “Adam” men’s wear line was fresh with hipster (we love that word!) suits and jackets. This was McGhee’s sixth runway with fashion week and we would have loved to have seen what she had presented in the previous shows. She is the only designer to have collections in every runway show since Tampa Bay Fashion Week started six years ago.

We were happy to see a familiar face in the runway crowd, Kato Kaelin. Yes, that Kato Kaelin, the famous house guest of O.J. Simpson. No, he wasn’t a spectator, to our surprise he was one of the designers. He and Tampa native, Rhonda Shear, teamed up to create “Kato Kouch Potato Wear.” “No matter if you are rich or poor, everybody wants to be a slacker at some point,” Kaelin said. “Who doesn’t love to be on the couch watching T.V.?” His lounge wear has a pocket labeled “T.V. Remote” so you will never lose it. There are extra pockets for snacks as well. “Cheetos, Fritos, Doritos, if it ends in an ‘O’ then you should be wearing Kato’s,” Kaelin said.  Kaelin even gave us a shout out on video saying he loved Underground Writer. We love you too Kato, thanks!

The designer we were most taken by was Stephen Ogaga’s SW8 line. His line was the highlight of the runway show. Models strutted down the runway in his leather athletic designs that were inspired by the different areas of London where Ogaga grew up. “SW8 was the postal code on my street sign, it represents Dorset Road in South West London where I grew up,” Ogaga said. “That road made me and it’s where I came of age, so that’s why I named my clothing line after it.” He has only been designing clothes for nine months and is humbled by all the attention his line has been getting in the Tampa fashion community. This was his first runway show. “I started out with just one t-shirt and it was received very well, which lead me to design a whole clothing line,” Ogaga said. He feels that the fashion event is putting Tampa Bay on the map in the fashion industry. “Tampa Bay isn’t just a place where you come and wear jeans and flip-flops, it’s a place of creative fashion designers who are setting the bar in the fashion industry,” Ogaga said.

Tampa Bay Fashion Week truly impressed these two fashionistas and proved that Tamp Bay can hold its own in the fashion world. We can’t wait to see what fashion week as to offer next year and we are glad to call Tampa our new “home.”


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