Fort Worth Fashion Week: Bringing together fashion and community

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Neiman Marcus partnered with Fort Worth Fashion Week to showcase their Spring 2022 line. (Photographer – Hannah Dimmitt, Clothes – Neiman Marcus Fort Worth, Stylist – Natalie Cochran, Model – Liza Ismaili, Production – Fort Worth Fashion Week®)

By Amanda Vasquez

New York, Milan and Paris are some of the places one would typically think of when referring to fashion.

However, creatives in the Fort Worth area are building a name for the fashion scene by showcasing what the community has to offer at the first semi-annual Fort Worth Fashion Week.

Phillip Maximillian, the creative director of Fort Worth Fashion Week, is one of those creatives spearheading the fashion movement. 

“The integrity of Fort Worth Fashion Week was to create a platform for fashion and fashion designers or anybody that is fashion relevant,” said Maximillian. “For instance, boutiques, retail stores, fashion models, fashion photographers, it can all be done here.”

From Feb. 21 through Feb. 27, events were held for Spring ’22 Fort Worth Fashion Week. Maximillian said his goal was to “highlight the whole city” by holding events at local boutiques, eateries, bars, galleries and department stores.

Opening night of Fort Worth Fashion Week was held at Eye Works. (Amanda Vasquez/ Staff Writer)

On Monday, Feb. 21, opening night of Fort Worth Fashion Week was put on display at Eye Works in the cultural district. Designer eyewear, such as Cartier, Tom Ford and Chanel lined the walls as associates from the store helped attendees find a pair of glasses that fit their style.

Fashion lovers and many other creative minds browsed the pieces and listened to live music while they discussed everything from fashion to business to collaborating.

Creator Jewels, model, musician and influencer from Dallas, dressed in a vibrant multi-colored trench coat, said she attended the event to connect with her love of fashion. 

“I think getting around this energy and this environment is so inspiring and it’s going to push me to be more creative,” said Jewels.

@creatorjewels

Have you heard of #FWFW ? All this week – get your tickets and meet other #Texas creatives! #FortWorthFashionWeek

♬ Favorite Moments – Creator Jewels

Solomon Wolf, owner of a multi-level entertainment management company and Fort Worth native, has been using his network to help push the creative scene in Fort Worth. 

“With the boom of Fort Worth and everything that’s growing here, we definitely created a scene for forward thinking in fashion and the creative realm,” said Wolf. “I’ve been doing that for the last five years, just pouring into the Fort Worth community. The more we network, the more we pull together our resources, the faster and the better we can create that atmosphere for the city.”

Maximilian, also a Fort Worth native, knew that the growing fashion scene in the metroplex is one that will be talked about for years to come.

“Fort Worth has fashion,” said Maximillian. “We just need to highlight and showcase the vibrant scene of the art, music and food out here. What I’m really trying to do is make this a genre. In the next year or so we’re gonna be hearing just about fashion.”

On Tuesday, models walked the runway at Neiman Marcus in Clearfork to unveil their Spring 2022 collection, along with live music and a champagne reception.

For some of the people in attendance, Fort Worth Fashion Week was their first opportunity to experience a live fashion show. Maximillian wanted Fort Worth locals to “come experience what it feels like to be in a front row seat.”

Days three and four were rescheduled to Saturday, Feb. 26 due to the winter storm. Fashion week continued after the ice melted on Friday, Feb. 25.

Heels, boots and all types of fashionable footwear walked down the streets of Camp Bowie district to peruse the clothing racks of local boutiques. Prippie, Lola + Lina, Chieffalo Americana, Hemline, Beehive, Move Athleisure, Hale House, Studio 74 Vintage and Shop Birdie all welcomed in fashion week followers. At the end of the night, shoppers were invited to Winslow’s Wine Cafe to sip wine and chat about the day’s events.

Shein, a Chinese online fashion retailer, and Twinkle Patel, a fashion designer, stylist and illustrator, collaborated for a runway show at the art gallery, Bale Creek Allen, on Saturday. TCU’s historic costume collection and fashion merchandising department also held an exhibition in downtown Fort Worth at the Dang Good Candy art gallery.

To close out the week of events, on Sunday fashion lovers drank specialty cocktails at Lot 12 rooftop bar, played virtual golf and kicked off the debut of Chaparral Golf Co. for its Spring 2022 collection. At the end of the day, Market by Macy’s Spring 2022 runway show wrapped up the week of fashion events.

Dedication and collaboration, Maximillian said, were stitched together to bring Fort Worth Fashion Week to life.

“We have about five months to plan stuff like this, but in between the five months you need people to come together,” said Maximillian. “Even do editorial shoots, whether it’s hiring the models or having a designer’s collection be ready, even setting up the production. It’s a lot of people coming together and making it all work into one week.”

From mechanic to fashion designer

Phillip Maximillian, Fort Worth Fashion Week creative director and owner of Mener Grand Train. (Photo courtesy of Phillip Maximillian)

Having an entrepreneurial spirit is a trait that Phillip Maximillian has at heart. His launch into the fashion realm is one that started with his love of fashion and his passion for creating. However, his path to fashion designing is one that is not so typical.

After graduating high school, Maximillian would be found getting his hands greasy working on cars at a Ford dealership. His ambitions of owning a business began at age 21 when he started building his own automotive repair shop in 2012.

Maximilian knew that his creativity could stretch even further. He sold his shop in 2015 and started his venture into fashion as a student at Petit Atelier, a custom design studio in Dallas.

“I realized I don’t want to do this for forever, so I decided to go to fashion design school,” said Maximillian. “I learned [how to] tailor and do the draping. I was like, I can do something with this and I decided I’m going to open my own men’s bespoke suit company.”

With a lot of sewing and plenty of drive, Mener Grand Train, men’s bespoke tailoring company, was crafted in 2016. When switching his focus from auto repair to fashion, Maximilian realized he had to learn not only about creating designs but also building a brand.

“I’m going from automotive to fashion design,” said Maximillian. “That’s a whole different genre for me, so I had to learn the back end of it. At the same time I was practicing my craft and launching the company… I didn’t know it [fashion] came with the back end of things. I just wanted to design and to build a company. In this generation it involves social media, e-commerce and people.”

While drafting designs, marketing his brand and connecting with fellow fashion lovers, Maximilian realized that dedication to his craft was key.

“I just knew it was gonna be more than just fashion designing and just to get your name out and start a collection and do a fashion show,” Maximilian said. “It’s something that you have to put your time into.”

TCU Historic Costume Collection x FWFW

The department of fashion merchandising posted to Instagram about the dresses shown at TCU’s historic costume collection exhibition. (Taken from TCU fashion merchandising instagram, @tcu_fashion)

In an effort to connect with his community and inspire up-and-coming fashion creatives, Maximilian decided to collaborate with students from TCU’s fashion merchandising department. 

Stephanie Bailey, a professor in the fashion merchandising department, worked with students to create an exhibit for TCU’s historic costume collection. The students chose three formal dresses from the collection to display dating from the 1920s, 1950s and 1980s.

Bailey explained that the collaboration with Fort Worth Fashion Week provided students with the opportunity to learn about their industry and network.

“I’m hoping that it gets them double fold,” said Bailey. “The class that will be putting this display together, they’re learning about collections and doing exhibits. This is a mini-exhibit where they’re getting hands-on experience of how to put it together and how to put together the cards and all the information that needs to go with teaching somebody about a historic exhibit. Then secondly, it’s always good to make contacts and see what’s going on with the local community and in your industry.”