Nashville Fashion Week Part 1: Nashville Designer Showcase

A couple of weeks ago, I received an invitation to cover Nashville Fashion Week as a photographer and I couldn't have been more excited!  Everything about this brand new experience for me was amazing, mainly because I was surrounded by so many insanely creative and inspiring individuals.  The entire week was a non-stop celebration of Nashville's advancing fashion industry, including panels, retail-based events, parties and exhibits.

Sponsored by YP Nashville, the first of the two runway shows took place opening night (April 7th) at Acme Feed and Seed, with world-renowned fashion photographer Nigel Barker (America's Next Top Model) in attendance. The collections of seven local designers were featured: Van Hoang of Van Hoang Designs, Maria Silver of Black by Maria Silver, Leslie Stephens of Ola Mai, Eric Adler of Eric Adler Clothing, Truly Alvarenga of Pink Elephants DesignsAmanda Valentine and Ashley Balding of Ona Rex

 

Van Hoang

Black by Maria Silver

Ola Mai

Eric Adler

Pink Elephants Designs

Amanda Valentine

Ona Rex

There are more photos to come!

Lauren Irene.

Not too long after I launched my blog, I received an unexpected email from this girl who had found me via Instagram.  She told me how much she admired my photography and that she was willing to travel from Memphis to collaborate with me for an up-and-coming project of hers called The Cultured Goddess, a website she was designing to promote and showcase female artistic expression.  Of course I was thrilled! But since I am still quite the amateur at this photography thing, I was somewhat hesitant about whether or not I could seriously do this.  I was willing to take on the challenge, though. 

To my surprise, when we spoke on the phone a few days later, it was as if we'd known each other for quite some time. High-spirited and wise beyond her twenty-something years, she shared with me her love for old-school music, classic literature, as well as her appreciation of cultural feminism. She defined herself as a "girl on a mission," which ultimately became the inspiration behind this photo shoot. I envisioned her effortlessly strutting the city streets while styled in something vintage modern chic, traveling to various spots located in the heart of downtown Nashville, such Dunn Bros Coffee shop, 5th Avenue of the Arts, and the historic Printer's Alley.

The morning of our shoot, I grabbed a pastry from another one of my many go-to coffee shops, Frothy Monkey, and waited for her to arrive. From a block away, I see a petite and seemingly self-confident chick amidst a crowd of people, sashaying in my direction while eagerly waving her hand in the air.  As she comes closer, I'm falling in love with her look from head to toe, from the pixie-like haircut underneath a cinnamon toned floppy hat, to the cerulean blue jumpsuit that was cinched at the waist with a built-in belt, and the cutest leather cut-out, peep-toe sandals.  Her accessories were minimal — a couple of pieces of small, dainty jewelry, a pair of aviators, and the illuminating smile she wore on her pretty face.   

Our chemistry was instant, and as a result, I didn't have to do much directing.  We laughed and connected so much that people kept stopping me, asking if I wanted to hand them the camera so that they could take a photo of us together, as if the two of us were just friends and I didn't have a job to do.  

To Lauren Irene: Thank you so much for this amazing experience and for believing in me! I wish you much success.

Source: www.lifeonfortywest.com/laurenirene

IveyCake + The Cupcake Collection.

"Boss"  by IveyCake - a custard filled vanilla cupcake with an eclair frosting, dipped in ganache and topped with a cherry. 

"Boss"  by IveyCake - a custard filled vanilla cupcake with an eclair frosting, dipped in ganache and topped with a cherry. 

Prepare yourself for some serious deliciousness in this post. 

I remember when cupcakes used to be so simple.  As a kid, my options were to either ask my mom to purchase a box of cake mix, along with a carton of eggs, milk and some tin foil cups from the supermarket or to pick up some of those Hostess-labeled packets of preservative filled cakes from the gas station or corner store.

But then a few years ago, this high-end gourmet cupcake craze began, and I must admit, when I became aware of it happening, I too, joined the bandwagon. I read an article recently that suggested the trend was on a decline nowadays but I see no evidence of this thing going away anytime soon. 

I had my go-to bake shop in Memphis and I didn't think any other place could compare to it.  But after moving to Nashville and being introduced to IveyCake and The Cupcake Collection, I may have to beg to differ. 

 

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Yes, this über glam you are seeing is really a bakery.

Have you ever received a Christmas gift that was wrapped so beautifully that you didn't want to open it to see what was inside? This feeling sums up my experience whenever I am at IveyCake in Brentwood.  

As soon as I walk through the door, I'm allured by this colorful spread of cupcakes that are always so whimsically packaged with either buttercream frosting or cream cheese icing and an assortment of toppings.  Instead of being labeled with traditional names, such as strawberry and vanilla, they're named with witty phrases and titles like "Good Kisser" and "Hot Mess" that give them so much personality and character. 

And they taste just as divine as they look.  These sweet delectables are baked from scratch daily with the finest ingredients.  

"I Do" - a vanilla cupcake with buttercream frosting topped with edible pearls and glitter. 

"I Do" - a vanilla cupcake with buttercream frosting topped with edible pearls and glitter. 

"Big Dreams" - a strawberry cupcake with cream cheese icing tinted pink (my favorite)!

"Big Dreams" - a strawberry cupcake with cream cheese icing tinted pink (my favorite)!

"Break Up" - a red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting and glitter (my second favorite)!

"Break Up" - a red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting and glitter (my second favorite)!

"Birthday Cake" - chocolate or vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting, sprinkles and glitter. 

"Birthday Cake" - chocolate or vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting, sprinkles and glitter. 

Ivey Cake

This place has received major local and national recognition and accolades, including The Tennessean's "Toast of The Music City" award for Best Bakery in 2012.  A couple of years prior, People magazine featured singer Carrie Underwood's wedding cupcake tier, which was created by Ivey Childers, the shop's founder. Childers also appeared on the TV show Cupcake Wars, a reality-based baking competition that airs on Food Network. 

On to The Cupcake Collection…..

"Sweet Lemonade" - a tart and sweet combination of lemon cake and lemon icing.

"Sweet Lemonade" - a tart and sweet combination of lemon cake and lemon icing.

"Strawberry" - strawberry cake topped with strawberry icing (it has real strawberries)!

"Strawberry" - strawberry cake topped with strawberry icing (it has real strawberries)!

Let me start by saying that I shot these photos at about 10:05 am on a Monday, which was five minutes after they had opened the doors for the day. Two minutes later, there were people standing behind me in a line that was almost out of the door waiting to place an order.

Oh yeah, the obsession with The Cupcake Collection here is real.

Located in Nashville's historic Germantown, it sits in the living room of a cozy, quaint house that belongs to baker Migñon François and her family.  

Their style approach to this confection is traditional.  And just like Ivey Cake, they are made from scratch daily with fresh and natural ingredients.  Each cupcake is moist, tasty and lightly topped with an icing that's just the right amount of sweet. Flavors to choose from include classic (Vanilla, Chocolate), premium (Café Au Lait, Strawberry Lemonade) and specialty (Butterfinger, Campfire S'mores).  

 

"Red Velvet" - velvety smooth southern style red velvet cake topped with cream cheese icing. 

"Red Velvet" - velvety smooth southern style red velvet cake topped with cream cheese icing. 

"Chocolate" - rich chocolate cake, chocolate icing, chocolate, chocolate and chocolate!

"Chocolate" - rich chocolate cake, chocolate icing, chocolate, chocolate and chocolate!

"Sweet Potato" - a sweet potato pie in a cake! Topped with buttercream icing and a dash of cinnamon. 

"Sweet Potato" - a sweet potato pie in a cake! Topped with buttercream icing and a dash of cinnamon. 

The Sweet Potato is their most popular cupcake (and one of my favorites as well).  It tastes just like a homemade sweet potato pie, which makes it just right for the fall. 

Winner of The Tennessean's "Toast of the Music City" award for Best Bakery 2011

Winner of The Tennessean's "Toast of the Music City" award for Best Bakery 2011

Source: www.lifeonfortywest.com/musiccitycupcakes

The Peach Truck.

There's this '64 Jeep Gladiator that travels all over Nashville with a truck bed full of sweet, juicy, Georgia-grown peaches. And quite frankly, they are some of the best I've ever had. 

Like….ever.

These fruits of heaven are hand-picked from orchards in Georgia and then driven to Nashville to be sold by the bagful.  Even if you don't live around here, you can still purchase them online and have them shipped to your door. They're only available during peach season (mid-May to mid-August), which means that you are getting the absolute best quality.

When I grabbed one out of my first bag and took a bite, I immediately thought about making a peach-flavored cocktail for our house guests one day, since we love home entertaining.  I took an inventory of what we had on our bar cart and searched Pinterest for inspiration.  

After scrolling through about a million results, I finally found a sangria recipe that includes the perfect fusion of white wine, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, sliced peaches and mint leaves.

You can find the recipe here

Source: http://www.lifeonfortywest.com/thepeachtruck

12 South.

12 South is probably my favorite of Nashville's up-and-coming neighborhoods.  When I visited it for the first time, it was like taking a deep breath of fresh air — the boutiques, the coffee shops, restaurants, music stores — almost everything is local and I was amazed at how they all seemed so innovative and anti-cookie-cutter.  

What's also really cool about this place is the Nashville B-Cycle station, a bike-sharing system that allows you to rent a bicycle for up to 24-hours and ride it anywhere in the city.  I decided to stay in the area with my bike and meet my husband for lunch at The Flipside

One of 12 South's newest restaurants, the interior has a modern 1950s diner flair, with powder blue banquette seating and vintage fire engine red Big Chill refrigerators.  The walls are combination of white tiling and transparent garage doors that allow natural light to shine through, giving this place a soft and airy feel. The bar is stocked with an abundance of options and they also have quite a few local draft beers on tap. 

The menu is centered around chicken breasts coated with seasoned bread crumbs, pan sautéed in olive oil and topped with various unique combinations that you can order as a a sandwich or standalone.  I enjoyed the Popeye sandwich, which includes spinach, tomato, mozzarella cheese and a balsamic drizzle. 

There was an inevitable sweet tooth that followed soon after, so we headed to Las Paletas, a gourmet ice pop shop also located in 12 South.

They are made with fresh ingredients with no preservatives or artificial flavors, which gives them a subtly sweet taste that's just right and not overwhelming.   And although the shop serves many traditional flavors, such as peach, strawberry, and vanilla chocolate chip (shown above), they also have more exotic ones, like pineapple chili, honeydew and Chai tea, which makes this experience more fun.  I just haven't built up the courage to try the fun ones yet!

Source: http://www.lifeonfortywest.com/12south