ALIVE On The Scene: STLFW Caleres Emerging Designer Award Presented By The Saint Louis Fashion Fund

By Klara Kobylinski
In Style

Union Station was abuzz last night with dozens of willowy models, seven talented designers, and over 1,000 guests in eager attendance. The presentation of the 2015 Caleres Emerging Designer Award was the second annual event of its kind and proved to be even more groundbreaking than last year’s inaugural gala and runway show. Presented by the Saint Louis Fashion Fund, the evening was one to be remembered as the ultimate Saint Louis fashion event of 2015.

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Photo by Ashley Lear

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Photo by Ashley Lear

Guests who chose to attend the gala dinner enjoyed a special champagne reception with fashion icon and businesswoman Iris Apfel, as well as the creative director of Levi Strauss, Paul Dillinger. Most guests arrived an hour preceding the runway show to mingle, taste hors d’oeuvres and sip on cocktails by Effen Vodka.

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Photo by Ashley Lear

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Photo by Ashley Lear

The beautiful gala and seamlessly spectacular fashion show belied the intense competition finalists endured leading up to last night’s roaring success of a show. While each designer or design team sent out a proud parade of models displaying strong and cohesive collections, the trip to the top here in St. Louis was not so breezy.

Months ago each designer was merely one online submission among hundreds of others, that is until the finalists were announced in New York in August. These top designers were  hand-picked by an esteemed panel of judges, including Barney’s Senior Fashion Director Tomoko Ogura, LaForce + Stevens’ co-founder James LaForce, founder of New York Fashion Week Fern Mallis and designer Lisa Perry, among others.

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Photo by Ashley Lear

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Photo by Ashley Lear

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Photo by Ashley Lear

This year’s lucky designer finalists to move on to compete at Saint Louis Fashion Week included Katharine Polk (Houghton), Jordana Warmflash (Novis), Mike Eckhaus & Zoe Latta (Eckhaus Latta), Azede Jean-Pierre (Azede Jean-Pierre) and Julie Haus & Jason Alkire (Haus Alkire). Moving on to STLFW required executing and submitting their Spring 2016 collection for the show along with participation in a special design challenge. The competition culminated in a win for Katharine Polk of Houghton, followed by the presentation of the Caleres Emerging Designer Award’s $25,000 by the Saint Louis Fashion Fund.

Caleres EDA Check Presentation

Photo by Fernando Leon/Getty Images for Saint Louis Fashion Fund

Katharine Polk not only received a sizable cash prize, but also a designer collaboration with an accessories brand, guidance and financial support to bring one of her chic looks to production and a yearlong mentorship from members of the Saint Louis Fashion Fund. Here are two of the winning looks from Houghton:

Photo by Mark Schwigen

Photo by Mark Schwigen

Photo by Mark Schwigen

Photo by Mark Schwigen

STLFW has only just begun! Don’t miss tonight’s Wear It: Fashion Challenge, Friday’s Fantich & Young show at Projects + Gallery, and Saturday’s STL Designer Pop-Up.

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