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August 30, 2017
It’s not every day one gets to sit down and chat with a rock star of fashion design, so when given the opportunity to pick the brains of TWO talented local legends, this fashion stylist was elated. With Fashion Week Tampa Bay right around the corner, I was lucky to pull these two away from their creative processes for just long enough to get a few pics and learn a little bit about who they are and what they do.
This Tampa native is on a mission to elevate the fashion scene here in the Bay Area. A graduate of Savanah College of Art & Design, Elizabeth has travelled all over the United States showing her designs. Her pieces have graced the runways of New York Fashion Week, been featured in the Ebony Fashion Fair, one of the numerous prestigious shows (including Fashion Week Tampa Bay!) in which she’s participated. Racker is deeply rooted in Tampa (her brick-and-mortar retail store is on North Florida Avenue) and loves the culture. We both agreed that the local fashion scene could use some more love from investors, but the growth, while slow, is very exciting and well worth the wait. I have been a fan of her work since I first laid eyes on the collection she showed at the 2013 Tampa Bay Fashion Week. She has a gift for draping fabric in a way that flatters the shape of a woman’s body and her eye for detail is impeccable. What’s in store for us at this year’s runway show? Aside from sharing hints about influences of African royalty, she was not quite ready to share details. I’m looking forward to seeing what she comes up with this year.
Highly influenced by her extensive background as a Creative Director of graphic design, Melissa Dolce creates conceptual clothing. If you’ve attended a wearable art show here in Tampa Bay in the last several years you’ve probably seen the inventive designs she’s shown at Dunedin Wearable Art Show, St. Pete Art & Fashion Week, Cocktails & Couture and many of her own events. Her collections are always completely over the top and based on a specific idea—think circus performers, or artistic masterpieces, or seasons. She enjoys watching the reaction of audience members when they see her collections for the first time. Her label, Dolce Couture, is currently undergoing a transition in direction. While she continues to be inspired by the art of fashion, Dolce plans to challenge herself to create pieces that are more marketable to consumers. This will be her first time showing a collection at Fashion Week Tampa Bay and she’s very excited. What can we expect to see from Dolce Couture? Show-stoppers for women to wear to special events, of course.
Photographs by Theresa NeSmith Photography