Well-known milliner Amy Downs is foremost a hat enthusiast and is actually curious why one wouldn't wear a hat. She's confident she could make someone a convert just by having them try the right one on.
Last week, Downs traveled by train from New York City, where she resides, to Memphis, the second stop on her trunk show tour. Hosted by Bar DKDC, this special pop up shop was my first introduction to the esteemed Amy Downs collection. Thankfully, Downs' husband Gary Rudy was also there eager to entertain my 7-year-old with magic tricks while I perused the vast assortment of hats.
The wide range of hat styles confirmed her notion that one could really find that perfect hat and become a hat enthusiast just as she was. Festive straw hats topped the tables while winter hats reminiscent of many eras filled the racks.
Both men and women delight in her collection, not only to adorn their heads but to also boast that they own an Amy Downs original.
Currently, the only way purchase an Amy Downs hat is through her trunk show. Her next stop is Albuquerque, New Mexico on Saturday, November 23rd.
Designer Irina McGuire lends her creative skills to St. Jude Children's Hospital full time as their lead web designer and developer, but her eye for design also finds its expression in her personal style. "I tend to go for classical pieces and pair them with quirky accessories," Irina explains as she tugs on her scarf and looks down to her incredibly patterned stockings.
Originally from Kazakhstan, Irina explains her affinity for scarves and unique stockings are a cultural influence. Owning over 20 scarves, she admits a slight obsession but suggests it's the smartest purchase you can make. We both agree that one great scarf can change your whole outfit.
Public relations manager Sarah Stramel is battling the cold weather in style with her colorful scarf, wool coat, patterned tights, and ankle boots. But nothing cuts through the dreary air like her warm smile, something Sarah describes as one’s most important accessory, particularly as a professional woman.
Last Thursday, it was fashion for a good cause at the annual Strut! Memphis fashion show to benefit the Community Legal Center, which provides legal assistance to those who can't afford it. The runway styles were provided by the shops of Laurelwood, while Mercedes-Benz of Memphis provided the venue that quickly filled with more style mavens than I could photograph.
The night kicked off with a cocktail served by one of the celebrity bartenders, including Mayor Mark Luttrell, Fox 13's Kontji Anthony, and the Flyer's own Jackson Baker and Bruce VanWyngarden.
Before long, the event's energy heightened with what seemed like a flash mob of swing dancers raiding the runway. The music then leaped ahead 40 years with crowd-pleasing hits by Michael Jackson. Guests bopped in their seats as models in exquisite coats, leather boots, detailed skirts, and beautiful dresses whirled above the crowd on the runway.
Click the slideshow to see a few of the runway looks and stylish Memphians I met. You can visit the Strut! Memphis website for more photos.